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The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is calling on the U.S. Food & Drug Administration 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 SVP 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.”
Manufacturers, courts seek clarification
Last November, FDA said it was seeking comments on the use of the term “natural.” GMA had filed a citizen petition 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,” Moore said.
GMA’s comments to FDA 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.
Founded in 1908, Washington, D.C.-based GMA represents the world’s leading food, beverage and consumer products companies and associated partners.