Last week the Food and Drug Administration said there were no plans to define the term "natural." They told Food Navigator that the claim is not a consumer issue and that consumer research would need to be done for a ruling to be issued.
"There are several things in this article that are of concern to us regarding their decision not to define natural at this time," says Sugar Association President and CEO, Andy Briscoe.
According to the National Marketing Institute natural and organic products are the fastest growing food manufacturing categories with 63% of consumers preferring natural foods and beverages. This is supported by a University of Minnesota study that shows companies providing sales of natural food products had sales of $68 billion, an increase of 8.5% since 2003.
The Sugar Association submitted a petition to FDA showing that 83% of consumers surveyed supported regulations for food manufacturers making "natural" claims. A Harris poll in 2006 showed that consumers believe a definition of "natural" should be provided.
"We hope that FDA will reconsider defining the term 'natural' as a priority. This is the appropriate time to clearly define 'natural' and protect consumers from misleading claims," stated Mr. Briscoe. "After all, FDA has established regulatory guidelines for the term 'healthy,' why can't the same be done for 'natural?'"