Julia Alexis- Contributing Writer
When you walk into a supermarket you are instantly faced with hundreds of choices, and for each food item you desire, there are dozens of variations. To one-up the competition, marketers use bright colors, big fonts and interesting designs that grab shoppers’ attention and entice them to buy products. Now companies have found a new way to grab people’s attention: natural foods.
According to Consumer Reports National Resource Center, in a survey of 1,000 people, 60 percent said that they look for the word “natural” on their food labels. So, what are natural foods?
The FDA says that it “has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives.” While they do not have a real definition for natural food, they will not object to the use of the word to describe any foods that do not have “added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances.”
This leaves a gray area for consumers when trying to decide what foods to buy. In a day and age when eating natural or organic has become the popular thing to do, how can consumers know what is actually the healthier choice?
Organic and natural food items have often been held in similar esteem, with some people electing to only buy food items sporting these two labels. But the two are not completely equal. While natural foods do not have a technical definition, certified organic foods have certain standards they must live up to.
The Stonyfield brand defines certified organic foods as foods that do not contain “toxic persistent pesticides, artificial hormones, antibiotics, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), sewage sludge or irradiation.” Foods labeled “natural” do not have to abide by these standards, giving manufacturers and companies leeway on what they consider a “natural” food. Despite the FDA’s hesitance to regulate what they consider “natural,” many people are fighting for greater regulation.
In 2012, Colorado-native Sonja Bolerjack sued Pepperidge Farm for false advertising on their Goldfish products. Pepperidge Farm advertised that Goldfish were all natural, which Bolerjack argued was false advertising given the fact that goldfish contain GMOs. This was one in a growing trend to sue companies with claims of false advertising.
In May of 2014, it was widely reported that in a five million dollar settlement Kellogg agreed to change its labeling, or formulas, on their Kashi and Bear Naked products after a suit was filed, saying that their “All Natural” and “Nothing Artificial” labels were misleading. The products contained many synthesized and processed ingredients. People have begun to question what is really in their “natural” food products.
With more and more young people pushing to lead healthier lifestyles, what does this mean for college students who want to eat healthier? People usually know what is good for their bodies and what isn’t. As long as students look for foods that don’t contain high amounts of sugar and sodium, exercise and sleep, they should be able to lead a healthy lifestyle without breaking the bank.