Public comments will now stay open through May 10 on the use of the term “natural” in American food labeling.

The FDA has extended the discussion, partially because of three citizen petitions that asked for definition or prohibition of the word on food labels.

According to the FDA, natural means “nothing artificial or synthetic  (including all color additives regardless of source) has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in that food.”

However, the current use of natural is not intended to address food production methods, such as the use of pesticides, nor does it explicitly address food processing or manufacturing methods, such as thermal technologies, pasteurization, or irradiation.

The FDA also does not consider whether the term “natural” should describe any nutritional or other health benefit.

They are seeking comments on three specific questions:

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

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Natural” on Food Labeling.


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