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The Great Label Lie – All Natural

IMG_0757In response to our collective interest in eating healthier, food companies have started trying to make healthier products. Well, sort of. They are trying to make products that LOOK and FEEL healthier, though they may not be. Hence the emergence of things like veggie chips and other “natural products”. (As a side note, my biggest pet peeve these days is a bag of veggie chips proudly bragging “1 serving of vegetables in each portion”. Um, NO because fried potato and corn with some salt is not a serving of vegetables! But I digress).


What does the natural label mean?


natural_cheetosNothing. Squat. The “All Natural” and “Natural” labels on food are not regulated by the FDA or any other organization. Which means unlike labels like Organic and Low Fat, a food sporting Natural claim doesn’t have to meet any type of requirements. If not for worry of public backlash (or lawsuit), M&Ms and Coca Cola could use a Natural label on their soda and candy, too. The good news is, people are starting to recognize this (or at least lawyers are). Last year Naked Juice lost a class action lawsuit claiming that their use of the Natural and All Natural claims, despite the juices containing non-natural things like GMO soy. 


How do you know what’s really natural?


Look at the ingredients label. If it contains something that don’t sound like they occur immediately in nature (like soy lecithin, GMO products, corn starch, etc), avoid it. And of course, use common sense. Something can claim it’s natural, and contain all ingredients that are, but that doesn’t make it natural. Just like frying some potatoes does not a vegetable serving make (although I can’t make the same argument for home made kale chips).

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Neal Thompson

    What bothers me is the amount of $$$ that is spent by these large companies to purposely misinform the buyer. One could argue that it is the public’s responsibility to educate themselves about what they put into their mouths. In the 20+ years I have spent in the fitness industry the issue has not been the client seeking information. It has been the client not knowing where to get the correct information. This is a direct result of shady marketing/advertising being done by large food manufacturers.

  2. Alex B

    I completely agree. I would also argue that poor journalism when it comes to science topics is also to blame for mass confusion, but that’s another argument for another day. Maybe next week’s blog post. Also don’t get me started on food marketing to young kids. Sit down and watch an hour or 2 of TV with your daughter and you’ll be appalled at all the stuff ads are telling her to eat. They don’t even need to use Natural claims with kids, they just throw in Tony the Tiger playing football with you and your dad followed by a bowl of Frosted Flakes or a bunch of kids having fun drinking Kool Aid and the kids are sold.

  3. Pingback: Teaching Kids Media Literacy & Label Lingo - Shaping Youth

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