(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – In comments submitted to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) called on the agency to more clearly define the use of the term “natural” in food labeling.
“Our industry is committed to providing consumers with labeling information in the clearest possible terms in order for them to make informed product purchases,” said Karin Moore, GMA’s senior vice president and general counsel. “It is critically important for FDA to clearly define the term ‘natural’ to alleviate confusion for consumers and industry alike and to set a standard that will promote fair and consistent dealing in the marketplace among food and beverage manufacturers.”
In November of 2015, FDA said it was seeking comments on the use of the term “natural.” GMA had filed a citizen petition with FDA in 2014 asking the agency to set a definition for the term, one of three petitions on the subject filed with the agency. In addition, some Federal courts have also requested clarification from FDA on the proper use of the term “natural” in food labeling due to ongoing litigation on this topic.
“The criteria used to determine if a food qualifies for a ‘natural’ claim should focus primarily on whether the product’s ingredients are synthetic/artificial or natural and on the degree of processing the ingredients have undergone,” said Moore.
The GMA comments also said that farming and agricultural methods used in the production of a crop, including pesticide or herbicide use, the use of biotech seeds, or animal husbandry (e.g., “free range,” “grass fed,” “fair trade”, etc) should not have a bearing on the “natural” status of a food or ingredient.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is the trade organization representing the world’s leading food, beverage and consumer products companies and associated partners. The U.S. food, beverage and consumer packaged goods industry has facilities in 30,000 communities, generates $1 trillion in sales annually, contributes $415 billion in added value to the economy every year and is the single largest U.S. manufacturing industry with 1.7 million manufacturing workers. Founded in 1908, GMA has a primary focus on product safety, science-based public policies and industry initiatives that seek to empower people with the tools and information they need to make informed choices and lead healthier lives.