US: Labeling Food as 'Natural'?

Posted By: Selerant RSA


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced the establishment of a docket to receive information and comments on the use of the term “natural” in the labeling of food products, including foods that are genetically engineered or contain ingredients produced through the use of genetic engineering (GMO ingredients).

From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is 'natural' because the food has probably been processed and it differs from the basic food components. Therefore FDA has not yet developed a definition for the use of the term natural or its derivatives.


What recent events prompted FDA to request comment?


FDA received three citizen petitions that the agency defines the term “natural” for use in food labeling and one citizen petition asking that the agency prohibits the term “natural” on food labels.  FDA also notes that some Federal courts, as a result of litigation between private parties, have requested administrative determinations from the FDA regarding whether food products containing ingredients produced using genetic engineering or foods containing high fructose corn syrup may be labeled as “natural.”

FDA is currently working with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service and Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to examine the use of the term “natural” in meat, poultry, and egg products, and are considering areas for coordination between FDA and USDA.

Specifically, the FDA has asked for information and public comment on questions such as:

  • Whether it is appropriate to define the term “natural,”
  • If so, how should the agency define “natural,” and
  • How should the agency determine appropriate use of the term on food labels?

The FDA has stareted accepting public comments, deadline for submitting comments is February 10, 2016


More information: Federal Register, Use of the Term “Natural” in the Labeling of Human Food Products; Request for Information and Comments

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