Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wall Street Journal Sept 20. 2011 "Natural," Claim

But some recent consumer lawsuits claim that food companies are playing fast-and-loose with the “all natural” designation, effectively committing fraud against the shopping public, WSJ’s Ashby Jones reports.

The litigation begs the question: What properly qualifies as “all natural”?

It’s hard to say, because the FDA largely has declined to define “natural,” according to WSJ.

“The word hasn’t been defined well enough at all, so for years companies have been able to get away with basically defining it themselves,” said Michele Simon, an author and food-policy expert.

More than 20 years ago, the FDA issued an “informal policy” defining natural to mean that “nothing artificial or synthetic” has been included in or added to a product, but the distinction between “artificial” or “synthetic” and “natural” isn’t so clear, according to WSJ.

“With the few precious dollars the FDA has, we largely choose to focus on topics that affect public safety,” an FDA spokeswoman told WSJ. “The ‘natural’ issue doesn’t. That’s not to say it’s not important, but we frankly have more pressing things to deal with.”

Wesson cooking oils and Kashi cereals are among the products named in recent lawsuits challenging the natural designation.

ConAgra Foods, maker of Wesson oils, said that it stands “behind the accuracy of our labeling.”

A spokesman for Kashi, a unit of Kellogg Co, told WSJ: “Kashi provides comprehensive information about our foods to enable people to make well-informed choices. We stand behind our advertising and labeling practices.”

Although the labeling cases haven’t been particularly lucrative for plaintiffs’ lawyers, a few of the reported settlements have reached the seven-figure level, WSJ reports.

As PT Barnum said, "There is a fool born every day."
Those who pay more because the food is labeled natural, when the word hasn't been defined, is who Mr. Barnum is talking about.

Food companies are blaming the FDA for not defining the term. It isn't an easy task when you realize that Cyanide is natural in some fruits.
Blameing the FDA for lack of a more solid defination is like blameing a store with a loose lock instead of the theif that breaks in!!!

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