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FDA Compliance

FDA Requests Feedback on Food Labeling Terminology

What does ‘natural’ mean?

Published: Tuesday, December 1, 2015 - 16:04

(ANSI) -- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is requesting feedback on the use of the term “natural” in food labeling. The action is a response to consumers who have requested that the administration explore the use of this term on food labels, considering the changing landscape of food ingredients and production. The FDA is accepting comments through Feb. 10, 2016.

Although the FDA has not engaged in rulemaking to establish a formal definition for the term “natural,” it notes that it does have a longstanding policy concerning the use of the term in human food labeling. Three citizen petitions have asked that the agency define the term for use in food labeling, and another citizen petition requested that the agency prohibit the term “natural” on food labels.

According to a recent FDA statement, “The FDA has considered the term ‘natural’ to mean that nothing artificial or synthetic (including all color additives regardless of source) has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in that food.” The FDA notes that this policy was not intended to address food production methods, including the use of pesticides, and it did not explicitly address food processing or manufacturing methods, such as thermal technologies, pasteurization, or irradiation. The FDA also states that it did not consider whether the term “natural” should describe any nutritional or other health benefit.

The FDA asks for information and public comment on questions including:
• Whether it is appropriate to define the term “natural”
• If so, how the agency should define “natural”
• How the agency should determine appropriate use of the term on food labels

To comment, read the read the request for information and comments and see the directions here.

ANSI also reminds stakeholders that federal, state, and local authorities rely on ANSI accreditation to demonstrate value and assure competency for important public priorities. ANSI accreditation helps foster consumer confidence, and is a valuable resource for numerous conformity assessment scheme owners—notably in the food safety sector. Read more about ANSI accreditation here.

In addition, ANSI recently sponsored an independently conducted market analysis examining the current and future state of eco-labels and environmental product declarations (EPD) programs. The study confirmed a growing demand for an ANSI-led accreditation program based on International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards that focus on determining the eligibility of a Type I certification schemes and Type III program operators. This program also covers the accreditation of eco-labeling certification bodies and conformity assessment bodies that verify and validate EPD.

To read about ANSI’s program offerings, including “Determination of Eligibility of Environmental Labeling Certification Scheme, Accreditation of Third Party Eco-labeling Certification Bodies, Determination of Eligibility of Program Operators for Environmental Labels and Declarations, and Accreditation of Third Party Eco-labeling Certification Bodies that Verify/Validate Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs),” click here.


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American National Standards Institute ANSI

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) coordinates the U.S. voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system, serving the diverse interests of more than 270,000 companies and organizations and 30 million professionals worldwide. ANSI is the official U.S. representative to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and, via the U.S. National Committee, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).