Don't Be Fooled by the Claim "Natural"


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Don't be Fooled by the Claim 'Natural'Dear Humanitarian,

When you are in the grocery store you can find the claim "natural" everywhere you look. In fact, you cannot miss the claim when walking down the meat and dairy aisles. It may be alluring to pick up animal products marked "natural"—who doesn't want to eat natural foods? But don't be fooled: you may not be getting what you think.

The claim's meaning is a far cry from what consumers expect. In fact, on meat and poultry products, the government defines "natural" to mean only that there are no artificial ingredients or chemical preservatives and that the meat is only minimally processed. The claim does not mean that the animals were kept free of routine provision of antibiotics or growth hormones, or that the animals were allowed to live in natural settings and exhibit natural behaviors, as a majority of consumers believe. This encourages the use of misleading claims, and consumer confusion results. To confuse matters more, there is no government definition at all for the claim "natural" on dairy and egg products.

The Food and Drug Administration has recognized this and is currently taking comments in order to better define the claim. AWI is asking that the FDA minimize consumer confusion by banning the use of the claim "natural" on animal products. Alternatively, if the "natural" claim is to be retained, it should only be used if products are certified by USDA Organic or an equivalent third-party certification program that requires, among other things, that animals have access to the outdoors and enrichments and are spared from physical alterations such as debeaking and tail docking, and are not given routine antibiotics or growth promoting hormones.

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