Thursday, May 15, 2014

What’s in a food label? Natural


Last week, I started a blog series about food labels and what they mean. I was inspired by a trip to Manhattan, KS to talk to the Kansas Nutrition Council about food labels.
This week, I’m going to cover the label ‘Natural.’

Natural is a label that you see on lots and lots of foods.
Examples of Natural labels

The USDA defined the term Natural in 2005.

Basically, Natural means that a meat product does not contain any…
·         Artificial color or flavoring
·         Coloring ingredient
·         Chemical preservative
·         Artificial or synthetic ingredient
And that the product is minimally processed.

The term natural refers to the meat itself and how it was processed. It has nothing to do with the way the animal was raised. The Natural term should be accompanied by another term that further explains what it means, like Natural, no artificial ingredients, minimally processed; Natural, Grass-Fed; or Natural, raised without antibiotics. You can see some examples of those claims in the picture above.

All fresh meat is eligible for the term Natural regardless of how the animal was raised.

Sometimes you may see a label claiming that meat was Naturally Raised. This claim was defined by USDA in 2009 and carries a different meaning than Natural does.
According to USDA, animals that have been Naturally Raised have been raised without the use of ….
·         Growth promotants
·         Antibiotics
·         Animal byproducts

This term does not mean that the animal was exclusively grass-fed or does it have any claim of whether or not the animal was raised in confinement. So, Naturally Raised beef may be from cattle that have been only fed grass for their entire lives or they may have been fed grain in a feedlot for a few months.

Either one of these groups of cattle may qualify for the Naturally Raised label

From my non-scientific surveying of labels in stores and on online, I’ve found that most foods simply state the individual claims rather than just saying the animal was Naturally Raised. Those claims, like raised without antibiotics or hormones, and grass-fed, are also in line for my What’s in a Food Label? series.

Let me know if you have any questions.

1 comment:

  1. Great series and explanation of natural. I think there is a lot of label confusion and exploitation in today's marketplace.

    ReplyDelete