Words are powerful influencers of behavior. Not only are consumers vastly more likely to purchase a product with the natural label, but they also ascribe a wide range of characteristics to a product bearing such a label. The “naturalness bias” leads people to believe that foods with a natural label are both better and safer than foods without that label. The reality, of course, is that anything we consider natural can be good or bad for us, just like the many things that do not come from nature.
The FDA has considered the term “natural” to mean that nothing artificial or synthetic (including all color additives regardless of source) has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in that food. However, this policy was not intended to address food production methods, such as the use of pesticides, nor did it explicitly address food processing or manufacturing methods, such as thermal technologies, pasteurization, or irradiation. The FDA also did not consider whether the term “natural” should describe any nutritional or other health benefit.
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