In my last post, I told you I was going to present a few common labels seen in our industry. I think it is important that we start expanding our knowledge outside of the classroom and into the ‘popular world”. Once we graduate, and I am sure even now, people will ask us our advice on anything and everything that deals with food. My goal with National Nourishment is to make you aware of what Americans are talking about so you are prepared.
I am going to start off with a frequent label seen in today’s stores: “Natural”. We see this label everywhere! In fact, a 2008 study found the term was the second most used claim on American food products. However, the FDA has not defined what conditions a food must meet in order to be ‘natural’. As their website explains, they “do not object to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances”. With regards to the USDA, which regulates meat and poultry, the term applies to meat only after slaughter. There should be no artificial ingredients, added color, and be minimally processed (meaning “processed in a manner that does not fundamentally alter the product”). This would suggest the manner in which the animal was raised up until slaughter has no bearing on the labeling.
There are many opinions about the “natural” label and I encourage you to research it more on your own. People often believe what they want to believe. Natural may mean ‘less sodium’ to someone with hypertension, or ‘sugar free’ to someone with diabetes, or so on and so on, just because they feel a ‘natural’ product is better for them or less harmful than a ‘non-natural’ or processed product. Some may think it is a less expensive alternative to organic food. And some may even think it’s all the same! In the end, it is up to food experts (that would be us!) to clear up the confusion and set the facts straight.