It’s Only “Natural:” Avoiding the Risk of Consumer Lawsuits Over Food Labels

Americans are increasingly sensitive to the ingredients that go into the food that we eat. Recently, Congress passed a law requiring manufacturers to label or place QR codes on products containing or made from genetically modified organisms (“GMOs”). Now, consumer advocates have turned their attention to food products bearing the word “natural,” raising legal risks for all food manufacturers who label products with that term. Unlike many terms pertaining to food, such as “light/lite,” “low calorie,” “fat free,” and “reduced sodium,” the Food and Drug Administration (the “FDA”) does not officially define the term “natural.” Instead, the FDA has a longstanding, but nonbinding policy regarding the use of “natural” in human food labeling. Specifically, the FDA considers “natural” to mean “that nothing artificial or synthetic (including all color additives…

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