Saturday, February 5, 2011

What does natural mean?

In recent years, as the organic industry has expanded, the use of the word "natural" has come under increasing attack from all sides. Supporters of both organic and conventional foods argue that the term "natural" is little more than a deceptive marketing tool meant to take advantage of easily persuaded and poorly informed consumers...but is it really that bad?

How does the FDA regulate the use of the term "natural"?
The only industry subjected to increased government controls when applying the term "natural" is the meat and poultry industry. According to an article published on the FDA's website, natural meat and poultry must be free from artificial colors, flavors, sweetners, preservatives and any other ingredients that do not occur naturally. It also must be minimally processed and the label must explain what is meant by the term "natural" (for example, "no artificial ingredients").

Why isn't there more regulation?
The FDA contends that that the term natural has not been defined or regulated outside of the meat industry because it is not a priority. They have not seen enough evidence that the current situation has resulted in consumers being misled. Instead, they focus their limited resources on misleading health and nutrient claims and other claims that may impact consumers health and safety, such as allergy labels.

Does the FDA plan on regulating the use of the term "natural" anytime soon?
It doesn't look like it. However, it may come under review if they are presented with substantial evidence that consumers are being misled.

In the mean time...
It is important to take personal responsibility for the choices and decisions you make as a consumer. Personally, I wouldn't abandon "natural" products... just educate yourself. Read the labels and buy brands you trust.  Do your homework when you have to. Long, Latin words in the ingredients aren't necessarily bad just because you can't pronounce them. Some products (like cosmetics) are required to be labeled this way. If you are not sure what an ingredient is, throw it into google and find out if it fits your definition of natural. It takes a little time up front, but from then on out you will know!

What does "natural" mean to Spotted Hippo?
  • No artificial colors- we only use products that are derived naturally from the earth and plant materials
  • No micas or oxide colorants- while these occur naturally, the micas and oxides approved for cosmetic use are synthetically produced... so you won't find them in Spotted Hippo!
  • No synthetic fragrance- we use only pure essential oils to scent our soap.
  • No artificial flavors- Spotted Hippo lip balms use pure essential oils or certified organic flavor oils (flavors naturally derived from organic plant materials)
  • No petrochemicals or hexane- All Spotted Hippo products are free from petrochemicals and all oils are naturally extracted without the use of hexane or other chemicals
  • Ethically produced- We are committed to finding and using products that are:
      • Sustainably grown and manufactured
      • Certified Organic or wild crafted
      • Pesticide free
      • GMO free
      • Fairly traded
      • Have minimal impact on the environment
So... what does natural mean to you?

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