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"Natural” Labeling on the Decline?

Manufacturers are removing “natural” statements from their labels, both as part of lawsuit settlements and as an alternate marketing strategy.  PepsiCo has agreed to remove the phrase from its Naked juices after a lawsuit was filed against it in California, stating that it will wait for more detailed regulatory guidance on the term.  It will continue to use the “non-GMO” label and will have a third party confirm the ingredients’ status as non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organism).  The case highlights the confusion around the use of the word “natural” in the industry.  FDA does not currently have a definition, but only general guidance that it does not object to the term’s use if there is no “added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances.”  Perhaps FDA will help PepsiCo with the sought-after guidance pursuant to the Food Court’s prompting in Cox v. Gruma, where the court asked FDA for input on the appropriate use of the term.

Other manufacturers are deciding to remove the term for marketing purposes.  Campbell Soup Co. is eliminating its “100% Natural” line of soups and replacing it with its new Homestyle line, because “ingredient technologies not perceived as natural were required for the company to achieve the taste it desired.”  For further information, see Campbell's soup.

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Michelle Gillette