So, Just What Does Natural Really Mean?

Now this picture of me, a self portrait of sorts, is what is natural to me.  Alaskan mountains reflecting on the lavender-blue waters of the Inside Passage in mid-May, clean air, open water, fresh water tumbling down mountain sides from glacial melt, now these are natural.

ME HAL Veendam Alaska Inside PassgeBut what does Natural mean when it comes to the products we purchase for our homes and families?  Are there standards set by the FDA or USDA as a definition of Natural so we know when we see Natural on a product, food or supplement that we are getting a chemical free, non-synthetic product? 

Here are excerpts from a recent article, What Does Natural Mean, by Mitchell Cute for that discusses “Natural” and just how “natural” Natural really is!  Enjoy.

 A recent survey of natural food and beverage trends reveals that consumers have lost trust in the term natural and manufacturers are increasingly avoiding the word on labels.

It's no wonder consumers are jaded and confused. There is no federal definition of what constitutes a natural product—in contrast to, for example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's complex definition of (and standards for) organic. Consider a recent campaign that referred to the soft drink 7UP as natural in spite of its use of high-fructose corn syrup. The Food and Drug Administration ruled that HFCS was not natural, and then quickly reversed itself.  However, the agency declined to offer a general definition of natural.

In personal care, the Natural Products Association ( has created its own standard and seal for use of the word natural, which prohibits the use of many common skin care petrochemicals.  The seal sets a high standard, but federal regulations don't govern its use. Instead, companies may opt into the Natural Seal program through the NPA.

For supplements, FDA regulations for labeling require that all dietary ingredients derived from a natural source declare that source in the Supplement Facts box—or example, "Vitamin C (from rose hips)" rather than synthetic vitamin C. "The term natural was popular, but has now become overused," says Susan Brienza, a Denver-based lawyer specializing in FDA and advertising law with Patton Boggs. "But if a company wants to claim '100 percent natural' on supplement labels or promotions,  then per [Federal Trade Commission] law it must ensure that all dietary ingredients are truly from natural sources."

If any further government regulation of the term arrives in the near future, it will likely come from the USDA, which is considering proposals for a natural seal similar to,  though less stringent than, its organic seal.”

Prime source       Mitchell Clute is a Fort Collins, Colo.-based freelance writer.