Saturday, January 25, 2014


It is known that food industry will use any means that can boost their bottom line. This may not be true with all players but generally applies to most of them. National laws which govern labeling practices can often be "twisted" or one can find loopholes to by pass the description of the rules. One such example is about using the word "natural" by many industry players without really meaning it because such products contain added ingredients which are not natural. Probably no food product may deserve this label if this prerequisite is strictly enforced. At the same time if it is allowed to be used indiscriminately there can be gross abuse of this word by one and all. Ultimately no strict laws can be put in place to anticipate every antics of the industry and therefore the consumer vigilance and pressure can only work in the long term. Here is an example as to how a major beverage multinational had to abandon the word "natural" from its label configuration because of consumer perception 

"The Food and Drug Administration doesn't have a definition for what constitutes "natural," but says it doesn't object to the word's use as long as the product doesn't contain "added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances." Still, a number of lawsuits recently have challenged whether the ingredients in products labeled as "natural" fit that billing. In some cases, companies are realizing the use of "natural" isn't worth the headache, said Steve Gardner, director of litigation for the consumer advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group that has filed lawsuits against companies on the topic. Last year, PepsiCo agreed to remove the words "all natural" from its Naked juices after a lawsuit noted the drinks contained artificial ingredients, such as a fiber made by Archer Midland Daniels. Another ongoing lawsuit filed in 2012 has challenged its description of some of its chips as "natural." And in November, PepsiCo killed off its Gatorade Natural line, saying the drinks didn't "resonate" with its core consumers".

There is another view which questions as to why "natural" cannot be used as long as no synthetic additives are used and probably this may be a logical contention. But there is a difference between "natural ingredients" and "natural product". As long as the label says that the product contains only natural ingredients consumer can understand that it is not 100% natural product. For example many juice manufacturers confuse the consumers by giving an impression that their juice based beverages are natural while in reality these are diluted juices mixed with sugar and flavor! To claim this as natural is not justifiable. 


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