YONKERS, N.Y. — No U.S. federal definition exists for natural labeling on food products, but consumers have their own definitions, according to a survey from Consumer Reports. Their criteria for the labels may not match up to what some products contain.
Fifty-one per cent of the survey respondents said they did not think natural labels were verified while 45% said they thought they were and 4% said they were unsure. Sixty-two per cent said they bought food labeled as natural.
When consumers were asked what the natural label on packaged/processed foods means, 63% said no toxic pesticides were used, 62% said no artificial materials or chemicals were used during processing, 61% said no artificial ingredients or colors were used, and 60% said no bioengineered ingredients/G.M.O.s were used.
When consumers were asked what the natural label means for meat and poultry items, 65% said no artificial ingredients or colors were added, 64% said no artificial growth hormones were used, 61% said the animals’ feed contained no artificial ingredients or colors, 59% said the animals’ feed contained no bioengineered ingredients/G.M.O.s and 57% said no antibiotics or other drugs were used.
The Opinion Research Survey, Princeton, N.J., conducted the survey for Consumer Reports by contacting 1,005 U.S. adults by phone Dec. 4-7, 2015. The survey had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.1 percentages points at a 95% confidence level.
Since the natural term has no clear meaning and no federal agency regulates the term, Consumer Reports in 2014 petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban its use on labeling. The F.D.A. is taking public comments on natural labeling until May 10 of this year.
|Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., director of the food safety and sustainability center for Consumer Reports|
“Ideally, we’d like to see federal regulators ban the natural label, but if they don’t get rid of it, then they must give it real meaning,” said Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., director of the food safety and sustainability center for Consumer Reports.The survey may be at found here.