If you’re like many parents, you probably try to keep your children’s diets as unprocessed and healthy as possible. According to a recent survey by Consumer Reports, almost two thirds of American shoppers usually choose foods labeled as “natural” when shopping for their families. With the best intentions possible, most people simply assume that when they are choosing processed foods that are marked as “natural,” that these products are therefore free of artificial ingredients, colors, pesticides and GMOs. Unfortunately, no government standards exist to regulate and maintain any standards when it comes to guaranteeing what the word “natural” means. Almost half of the shoppers surveyed by Consumer Reports mistakenly believe that the labeling of products as “natural” has been independently verified, but the reality is that food manufacturers are in fact allowed to use artificial substances in processed foods and still give them the “natural” label. In essence, this means that a word that so many parents are wrongfully associating with being more healthy when it comes to making food choices for their families is simply being used primarily as a marketing tool to drive purchasing choices.
Consumer Reports is currently seeking to rectify this misleading situation. They are asking the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the use of the word “natural” and define it in a verifiable way, or to ban the term all together from food labeling. In turn, the FDA is asking for the public to voice opinions on how the word “natural” should or should not be used on packaging. More information about the Consumer Reports survey and how you can voice your own opinion can be found here.