WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, the Sugar Association filed a formal petition asking the FDA to establish specific rules and regulations governing the definition of "natural" when it comes to labeling of foods and beverages regulated by the FDA.

The petition highlights the importance of two criteria for making a "natural" claim on foods and beverages:

  • a food that does not contain anything artificial or synthetic, and

  • a food or food ingredient is not more than minimally processed.

  • It also requests that FDA support consistency across federal agencies, saying the USDA definition of "natural" for meat and poultry should be adopted as the general definition for all "natural" claims.

    The Sugar Association said this request is supported by a nationwide survey of 1,000 adults conducted by Harris Interactive on the group's behalf, showing that 76 percent of those polled agreed the USDA standard should be applied to all foods.

    "A growing number of consumers have already made the value judgment that 'natural' foods and ingredients are important when purchasing foods and beverages for themselves and their families," said Andy Briscoe, president of the Sugar Association. "Further, for those companies deciding to manufacture or market 'natural' products, a clear, consumer-friendly definition of the term 'natural' would provide the very continuity such claims require and would help eliminate misleading practices."

    When the FDA's 1993 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act was released, the agency cited resource limitations and other agency priorities as reasons for not defining "natural" in the act, instead maintaining the previous informal policy of general principals. The Sugar Association is now asking that the agency make defining "natural" a priority.

    SOURCE: Sugar Association via PR Newswire.