“Due to overwhelming and ongoing consumer confusion around the natural food label, we are launching a new campaign to kill the natural label because our poll underscores that it is misleading, confusing, and deceptive," Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., executive director of the Consumer Reports Food Safety & Sustainability Center, said. "We also don’t believe it is necessary to define natural when there is already another label—organic—that comes much closer to meeting consumer expectations and is accompanied by legal accountability.”
Most consumers would probably be surprised to learn that the FDA has not developed a formal definition for use of the term “natural” or its derivatives. But the agency has not objected to the use of the term if “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 the food”—though these are still found extensively in “natural” labeled foods.
The USDA, which regulates meat and poultry, says that a product is natural if it contains: “No artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed. Minimal processing means that the product was processed in a manner that does not fundamentally alter the product.”
But our survey shows that consumers believe the label means and should mean far more than these narrow definitions, which is why we believe the term should be banned on food.