FDA Seeks Public Comment on Term “Natural” in Food Labeling


In a constituent update today, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reaching out to the public for comments and information regarding the use of the term “natural” in labels on food. FDA attributes this action to having received three Citizen Petitions requesting them to define the term “natural” on labels and one petition demanding the prohibition of the term altogether. FDA also notes, according to the update, that 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.’”

While FDA has never established a formal definition of the term, they do acknowledge a “longstanding policy” to consider “natural” to mean, “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.” That policy, however, does not address production methods or whether “natural” denotes any nutritional or health benefits, they go on to say. Specifically, FDA is requesting feedback on these three questions:

  • “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.”

They will be accepting public comment starting Thursday, November 12, 2015. Comments can be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov by typing the docket number FDA-2014-N-1207 in the search box or by mail.


Published on WholeFoods Magazine Online, 11/10/15