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Natural, Organic or USDA Organic

Last month an article in "USA Today" caught the eye of many conscious consumers and sparking anger on Facebook.  The article brought to light that Kellogg's Kashi products, which are said to be "Natural" actually contain genetically modified soy products.  This article, like many I've read, show that we have to be diligent in product awareness.  We can not simply trust label phraseology.

The article quotes Kashi general manager, David DeSouza, as saying the company has done nothing wrong. "The FDA has chosen not to regulate the term 'natural,' " he says. The company defines natural as "food that's minimally processed, made with no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or sweeteners." What he says is true regarding the FDA.  It does not regulate the word "natural" in labeling or advertizing.  Therefore many companies choose to use this term loosely.  According to a 2010 Hartman Group poll, more than 60 percent of consumers erroneously believe that the "natural" label implies or suggests the absence of genetically engineered ingredients. USA states, "Kellogg got itself into trouble by "not being entirely transparent," says Roger Nyhus, president of Nyhus Communications in Seattle. He sees a trend among some companies "of fudging language to allay consumer concerns and jump on the green bandwagon, and I think it's starting to backfire." Once again it lies on the consumer's shoulders to be educated about wording and labels.  Currently, the ONLY label that can protect consumers against genetically engineered ingredients and other questionably unhealthy additives is the USDA 100% Organic label. Let me clarify a little on words used in labeling.

  • The definition of "natural" is left up to the companies interpretation of the word.  It varries from company to company.
  • The label "made with organic ingredients" can contain anywhere between 70 to 95 percent organic ingredients
  • Products labeled simply "USDA organic" must contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients
  • Products labeled "USDA 100% organic" must contain only organically produced materials

Hopefully this helps clarify in your mind what you are getting when you purchase a product. Find out about Nutritional Counseling for additional information.

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