Definition of “Natural”: FDA Request for Citizen Input

naturalFrom a nutritional, health and food science perspective, the word “natural” is only vaguely and loosely defined by the FDA, which makes the basic and long-standing rule that nothing artificial or synthetic has been added to the food. This current definition is highly misleading and insufficient because it doesn’t address the multitudes of food processes, GMO’s, man-made derivative foods, or the use of irradiation or preservatives.

For example, under the current definition, a so-called natural food can be pulverized into a powder or liquid. It can be subjected to every kind of heat or thermal process (including pasteurization). It can be subjected to chemicals and enzymes. It can be subjected to pressure. It can be irradiated. It can include preservatives, pesticides and wax. And finally, a portion of the food can be used to make another man-made food that’s also called natural.

The time has finally come for the FDA to provide a more enhanced and specific definition of this term. They recently received three Citizen Petitions asking the FDA to prohibit use of the term “natural” on certain food labels. In addition, because of law suits between private parties, the federal courts have also gotten into the natural food definition act, and they’ve asked the FDA to provide “administrative determinations” about whether foods containing GMO’s or HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) can be labeled “natural.”

Because of this, as of November 12, 2015, the FDA is asking for public comment and feedback. Specifically, the FDA wants to know:

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

What kind of labeling would be most helpful to you? Please speak up. To submit comments online, visit and type FDA-2014-N-1207 in the search box.

To submit comments to the docket by mail, use the following address. Be sure to include docket number FDA-2014-N-1207on each page of your written comments.

Division of Dockets Management
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061
Rockville, MD 20852

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Posted in Sugar-Free Lifestyle