The FDA dealt a disappointing blow recently to consumers hunting for natural choices for their families. Despite petitions from The Sugar Association and major manufacturer, Sara Lee, Food Navigator reports that the FDA declined to issue a regulation that would define use of the word “natural” on food and household product packaging in the near future, stating:
…”we’re not sure how high of an issue it is for consumers”. .
Now, how often do consumers and manufacturers agree that less confusing is better? This is one of those cases.
In an interview with (Food Navigator-USA.com), Geraldine June from FDA’s Food Labeling and Standards department said the agency had not put the ‘natural’ issue on its priority list because there is not enough evidence that the current situation means consumers are being misled.
“even if people interpret it in different ways it doesn’t mean there is confusion out there. If there was, then we would definitely raise it as a priority”.
I’m not sure I quite understand that logic. Consumers assume that the word “natural’ means something. They may not know exactly what it means or MAY interpret it different ways but they assume that the government agency responsible for the safety of the food we eat has a definition. And manufacturers seem just as confused…enough to put forth a petition for change anyway.
Once a petition is made to the FDA, consumers have an opportunity to comment on it. This one though seems to have slipped by unnoticed as… only 9 consumers sent in their comments. I wish I had been one of them.
I spoke to the folks at the FDA today after vainly navigating their website trying to determine how to make a comment on this proposal. They were extremely helpful and gave me the docket number (2007P-0147) and told me…though comments are closed, I can still fax or snail mail (though not e-mail) in my thoughts. They will be placed in the file and perhaps if the file gets big enough…well who knows?
I think this is important enough to do so.
If you think so too, fax or mail your comments with the following information:
FDA – Docket# 2007P-0147
The FDA fax number is:
Their mailing address is:
Division of Dockets
5630 Fishers lane
Rockland., MD 20852
Here’s what I wrote.
To Whom It May Concern:
Re: FDA – Docket# 2007P-0147
As a concerned citizen I wish to comment that:
Natural Means Nothing – Not to Me!
There is confusion due to the lack of a consistent definition of “natural” between and among federal agencies, consumers are confused and being mislead by food labels that claim natural ingredients.
I ask that you reconsider your current stance regarding regulation of the use of the term natural on food labels and open up Docket # 2007P-0147 to further comments from consumers and concerned parties.