- The Institute of Food Technologists sent written comments in regard to the use of the term "natural" in May to the Food and Drug Administration, making two key recommendations.
- In order to prevent and reduce consumer confusion, IFT recommended the FDA consider getting rid of the term entirely or clearly defining it, setting standards or guidelines similar to what the USDA has done for the use of the term "organic."
- IFT suggested the FDA should establish clarity around key areas that relate to food processing.
The IFT joins a chorus of stakeholders. The Grocery Manufacturers Association has also asked for a legal definition of natural.
In a study released by Consumer Reports, 62% of consumers regularly purchased foods and beverages labeled "natural" in 2015, up from 59% in 2014, but the majority of consumers don't actually know what that label means.
If the definition of natural is limited to unprocessed foods, very few foods would be able to bear the term natural, according to the IFT's written comments.
In addition to educating consumers as to how foods and ingredients, with or without natural labels, fit into their diets, a legal definition would allow manufacturers to provide information on the standards or guidelines that qualify a food product as natural.