Food manufacturers and the companies who market their products recognize that the term “all natural ingredients” carries some weight. Consumers are increasingly turning toward more natural products because of the perceived health benefits associated with them. In some cases this association is well justified, while in others, it is not.
Sadly, there is not a complete consensus as to what “all natural ingredients” really means. There are several definitions as listed below from the naturalingredient.org site.
With regard to the ingredients used to make RPSFM, no matter which definition you use, they meet all the requirements for containing only “all natural ingredients.” We believe that the quality of ingredients that go into a product definitely do make a difference. That’s why we’ve committed to use only the best, all natural ingredients we can find.
While it is true that there is no official, U.S. government regulated definition for the term “natural” pertaining to the natural products industry, the FDA refers to natural ingredients as “ingredients extracted directly from plants or animal products as opposed to being produced synthetically.”
The key word there is, “extracted directly”. In the case of some ingredients, it’s easy to see that they fit easily into this definition.
But what about raw materials that need to undergo some processing or chemical reaction in order to extract the ingredient from the natural raw material that is the source?
Even distilling aromatic plants to produce essential oils sometimes results in the creation of chemicals that didn’t exist in the raw material, but which are created by the actual distillation process alone!
The “Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients” says a natural product is defined as a “product that is derived from plant, animal or microbial sources, primarily through physical processing, sometimes facilitated by simple chemical reactions such as acidification, basification, ion exchange, hydrolysis, and salt formation as well as microbial fermentation.”
“In the early ’80s the FTC came up with a great definition for Natural – never adopted. They said that an ingredient may be called “natural” only if it contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients and has had no more processing than something which could be made in a household kitchen.”
The USDA has a legal definition for “natural”, but it applies only to meat and poultry; “those products carrying the “natural” claim must not contain any artificial flavoring, color ingredients, chemical preservatives, or artificial or synthetic ingredients, and are only “minimally processed” defined by USDA as a process that does not fundamentally alter the raw product.”
The USDA National Organic Program defines non-synthetic as “a substance that is derived from mineral, plant, or animal matter and does not undergo a synthetic process”. They define a synthetic as “a substance that is formulated or manufactured by a chemical process or by a process that chemically changes a substance extracted from naturally occurring plant, animal, or mineral sources, except that such term shall not apply to substances created by naturally occurring biological processes.”
Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, which is an independent, nonprofit testing and information organization serving only consumers, states; “Natural is a general claim that implies that the product or packaging is made from or innate to the environment and that nothing artificial or synthetic has been added. There is currently no standard definition for the term except for meat and poultry products. Unless otherwise specified, there is no organization independently certifying this claim. The producer or manufacturer decides whether to use the claim and is not free from its own self-interest.”
Natural Ingredient Criteria includes plant, animal, mineral or microbial ingredients:
- present in or produced by nature.
- produced using minimal physical processing.*
- directly extracted using simple methods, simple chemical reactions or resulting from naturally occurring biological processes.*
Natural ingredients are:
- grown, harvested, raised and processed in an ecological manner.
- not produced synthetically.
- free of all petrochemicals.
- not extracted or processed using petrochemicals.
- not extracted or processed using anything other than natural ingredients as solvents.
- not exposed to irradiation.
- not genetically engineered & do not contain GMOs (genetically modified organisms).
Natural ingredients do:
- not contain synthetic ingredients.**
- not contain artificial ingredients including colors or flavoring.
- not contain synthetic chemical preservatives.