FDA declines to define ‘natural’

In a much anticipated letter response, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has officially declined the opportunity to administratively determine whether foods containing bio-engineered ingredients may be labelled as ‘natural’, ‘all natural’ or ‘100 per cent natural’ and, more generally, declined the opportunity to define ‘natural’ in the context of food labelling.

The issue stems from an influx of litigation involving the alleged false advertising of food products making a variety of ‘natural’ claims, where no official federal law, rule or regulation defines the term ‘natural’. Three separate US.S District Court cases — Cox v Gruma Corp (ND Cal), Barnes v Campbell Soup Co (ND Cal) and In re General Mills Inc Kix Cereal Litigation (DNJ) — referred the issue to the FDA on primary jurisdiction grounds for the FDA’s determination as to whether food products containing corn from genetically modified seeds could be labelled ‘natural’.

As stated in the FDA’s 6 January letter, despite significant push from industry and consumer groups alike, FDA declined to allocate its resources ‘at this time’ to make a determination regarding whether and under what circumstances food products containing genetically engineered ingredients may be labelled ‘natural’…

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