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How Do You Define “All Natural” Food?

Even though I understand that “all natural” or “organic” products are not necessarily equal to “healthy” food, they get my big attention. As a result, I end up I buying and eating a lot of “all natural” or “organic” food. Well, after reading Ashby Jones’ report (news + video) about “all natural” food in The Wall Street Journal, I have learned that I cannot trust these labels any more.

According to Ashby’s report, even FDA does not have a clear definition of what the term “natural” means. FDA’s “informal policy” or explanation of “natural” reads: “nothing artificial or synthetic… is included in, or has been added to, the product that would not normally be expected to be there.” Probably because of FDA’s vague definition, there are a number of lawsuits regarding the all-natural-labeled products recently. For example:
  • The “100% Natural” Arizona Green Tea contains high-fructose corn syrup. 
  • The “All Natural” Kashi “allegedly uses unnaturally processed and synthetic ingredients.” 
  • The “All Natural” Skinnygirl Margarita “contains the preservative sodium benzoate.” 
  • The “100% Nature” Canola Oil by Wesson is “made from genetically modified plants.”  
I guess customers have to define “natural” by themselves. When we shop, we had better read the ingredients carefully. Even better? We shall practice healthy and balanced diet. Is it right?

While labeling an item as “all natural” and “organic” may help a business increase sales, restaurants and foodservice providers are advised to doubt-check the ingredients. Otherwise, they are taking a risk of getting sued by smart customers.


 
References:
A. Jones (2011, September 20). Is your dinner ‘all natural’? The Wall Street Journal, pp. B1 & B2. Also available online.

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