What’s ‘natural?’ You decide

If you're looking for 'natural' foods, many of them do not come in boxes.

If you're looking for 'natural' food, it often doesn't come in a box.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration just doesn’t have time to regulate the word “natural” on labels, according to a report in Natural News.

We all know they’re very busy at the FDA. Last month they were frantically looking for salmonella in cilantro, and then there’s all those erectile dysfunction drugs to monitor.

The FDA says there’s no indication the term “natural” is being used to mislead consumers, and that its current rules are good enough. For now, “natural” may be used on labels if that use “is truthful and not misleading,” and may not be used on food products containing artificial colors or flavors or “synthetic substances.”

Those rules make for a pretty loose game. The truth is there are many problems with the use of the word “natural,” and the FDA currently allows many foods I would consider to be unnatural to be labeled as natural. Examples include meats from animals raised under unnatural conditions, and packaged products containing synthetic vitamins such as ascorbic acid, folic acid and others. I avoid such foods.

Conversely, there are plenty of things that are truly “natural” that humans should not consume, or should not consume in large quantities. The sugar industry is one of the groups recently pressuring the FDA for a definition of “natural” because it wanted to tell consumers that sugar is a natural sweetener, which it arguably is. What’s probably not natural is for humans to consume more than 150 pounds of sugar per year, as the average American does.

The bottom line is, with a little education and common sense, we don’t need the FDA or anyone else to tell us what is or isn’t natural. It’s something we should be able to determine for ourselves.

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