The Department of Agriculture clearly defines “natural” when applied to labeling. For meat and poultry, it means minimal processing, no artificial or synthetic ingredients, and no added hormones.
But the Food and Drug Administration says it has no plans to define natural or to restrict its use in labeling.
With no clear definition, confusion and controversy have been generated. Consumer groups are urging the FDA to restrict use of the word “natural” and they demand that food manufacturers stop freely using it until the government acts. This spring, one organization threatened legal action against a popular soft drink, “100% Natural” 7UP.
“Natural means nothing,” said Urvashi Rangan, a toxicologist and a senior scientist at Consumer Reports , which has urged government action. “You have to flip the box over and examine the ingredient list. You’ve got to do your homework. But there’s no requirement for what the ingredients have to be, to be considered natural.”
Courtesy of The Organic Consumers Association.
Keep in mind, while it’s very important to read ingredient labels, it’s even more important to consume whole, raw, fresh vegetables and fruits which, provided they are organic, are as “all natural” as it gets.