March 16th, 2011 | Simcha Weinstein | Comments Off on “Natural” Needs Some Oversight
Organic is a food certification system . . . natural is not. Whenever you see an organic label on a food product, it indicates that the farmer, producer or manufacturer has passed regular inspections of their facilities, ingredients, and their practices. They must pay a fee for their certification, keep very thorough and accurate records and must follow very strict guidelines.
Natural, on the other hand is not certified. It is merely a claim that is made on a label with no oversight at all. According to the USDA, food can only be labeled natural if it contains no artificial ingredients or added colors and is minimally processed. Furthermore, the label must clearly spell this definition out, so that consumers are not misled by the “natural” label. Keep in mind that according to this definition, animal products raised with the use of artificial hormones can be labeled as natural. The same is true for products that have been genetically modified. In the United States, there is no legal definition of “natural” on food labels. Because the label “natural” or all-natural” is essentially unregulated, food companies can get away with using all sorts of non-natural processes and chemical ingredients in a food product that they claim is natural.
So, natural has approximately one paragraph as its guideline/definition, while organic has a very strict set of standards, requirements, policies and procedures that must be followed to gain certification – all overseen by the USDA. Many, if not most consumers, believe they are buying healthy food when they see a product labeled and sold as natural, when quite often they are being mislead, perhaps not intentionally, but misled nonetheless.
It is very possible to sell food with GMO’s and label it as natural. There is absolutely nothing natural about GMO’s. Genetic engineering doesn’t happen in nature. Scientists force genes from bacteria and viruses into plant DNA, which result in dangerous side effects. But now, what we are seeing is that many of our favorite “natural” breakfast cereals are likely to contain ingredients from genetically modified corn, soy, canola, and sugar beets. This was a key finding from a survey of natural cereal manufacturers conducted recently by The Organic & Non-GMO Report. For the complete article by Ken Roseboro detailing the findings click here.