Hello Loyal Soup People! This week I’d like to return to the topic of labels. It seems that mislabeling is only getting worse, and consumers need to be made aware of when they’re being deceived. Specifically, I’m referring to the word “natural” that is slapped across containers of everything from potato chips to cereal to even candy bars! The problem is that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still has no definition for the word.
According to a recent Consumer Reports study, 62% of consumers look for foods with a “natural” label. They assume that it is a healthier product. In fact, many people think that an independent organization verifies that these products are indeed “natural” (similar to USDA certified organic food). This is simply not the case. According to their website, the FDA “has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives.”
We can’t really blame food manufacturers for taking advantage of this “hole” in FDA regulations. If there are no rules governing the use of the term “natural,” and it helps with sales, why not use it? It is up to the consumers then, to navigate around the labels and claims.
What does “natural” mean to you? No chemicals? No preservatives? Simple ingredients? No pesticides? Everyone probably has their own definition! Think about what is important to you when shopping and fill your cart with truly natural items. If you want to avoid chemicals and preservatives, stick to the produce area! If avoiding pesticides is important to you, look for organic fruits and vegetables. If buying a packaged product, skip right to the back label and make sure you recognize every ingredient. Shop “naturally” in your own way!