GMA calls for 'natural' definition

17 May 2016

In comments submitted to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) has called on the agency to more clearly define the use of the term “natural” in food labelling.

GMA calls for 'natural' definition

In comments submitted to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) has called on the agency to more clearly define the use of the term “natural” in food labelling.

“Our industry is committed to providing consumers with labelling information in the clearest possible terms in order for them to make informed product purchases,” said Karin Moore, GMA’s senior vice president and general counsel. “It is critically important for FDA to clearly define the term ‘natural’ to alleviate confusion for consumers and industry alike and to set a standard that will promote fair and consistent dealing in the marketplace among food and beverage manufacturers.”

In November of 2015, FDA said it was seeking comments on the use of the term “natural.” GMA had filed a citizen petition with FDA in 2014 asking the agency to set a definition for the term, one of three petitions on the subject filed with the agency. In addition, some Federal courts have also requested clarification from FDA on the proper use of the term “natural” in food labelling due to ongoing litigation on this topic.

“The criteria used to determine if a food qualifies for a ‘natural’ claim should focus primarily on whether the product’s ingredients are synthetic/artificial or natural and on the degree of processing the ingredients have undergone,” said Moore.

The GMA comments also said that farming and agricultural methods used in the production of a crop, including pesticide or herbicide use, the use of biotech seeds, or animal husbandry (e.g., “free range,” “grass fed,” “fair trade”, etc) should not have a bearing on the “natural” status of a food or ingredient.

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