How Natural are the Foods Labeled "Natural?"

Feb 25, 2016 03:20 AM EST | By Florence May P. Jose


Are you the kind of shopper who relies on food labels, such as "natural" and "organic," when it comes to your "healthier" food choices?

Well, some advocates are raising and waving the warning flag.

According to Jane Maynard, a blogger on healthy meal recipes, the food label "natural" has no standard meaning that the world has agreed upon, hence, could be misleading or deceiving.

"That word pulls you in and makes you feel like for some reason that's a better food," the San Diego resident told NBC News.

One of the studies conducted by Consumer Reports shows that 62%, a little over half of the consumer population, look for the "natural" label on food items, with the understanding that it is healthy-meaning it contains no artificial ingredients, harmful chemicals and pesticides, and hasn't been genetically modified.

This is the reason why Maynard is calling the attention of concerned authorities. The lack of the universal definition or convened classification of the food label "natural" could cause confusion and deceit towards buyers.

In fact, Consumer Reports cited numerous instances wherein products claim that they are 'natural', but turned out to contain artificial preservatives.

Del Monte Fruit Naturals mixes in artificial additives that came from industrial ingredients. Kraft Natural Cheese includes cellulose powder, which are wood pulp used to prevent grated cheese from clumping together.

Ironically, 100 percent Natural Wesson Vegetable Oil is not full made of natural ingredients and in fact contains genetically modified substances.

Consumer Reports Food Safety and Sustainability Center is in solidarity with Maynard's cause.

"We think the natural label is so incredibly misleading because it leads people to think that that food may meet those attributes, when in fact it does not," Urvashi Rangan, lead researcher from the organization, said.

Consumer Reports, along with The Grocery Manufacturers of America, has filed a petition to the Food and Drug Association (FDA) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ban the use of the word "natural" in food labels, or else define the term and propose standard guidelines with the usage of the label.

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