Scanning labels, people's eyes tend to gravitate towards words that indicate quality. For many, one such phrase is "all natural." It conjures up images of fresh, healthy food, grown and cultivated far from the mechanical influence of beakers and lab coats.
However, it may not mean as much as we think.
Pressure and lawsuits from consumer advocacy groups contend that the designation can be misleading. The FDA has not finalized a 12-year-old draft guidance that would outline the proper designation for genetically modified foods, and as such has left a grey area that is open to interpretation.
In addition, litigators who work to support the public interest argue that calling a product "all-natural" suggests that it is healthier, a claim that is not always delivered by the product. Stephen Gardner, of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, discussed one widespread example of this phenomenon.
"A product being completely natural is not a guarantee of healthfulness. High fructose corn syrup is clearly not natural, but there's minimal if any difference in terms of health than the same amount of sugar, which is clearly natural," Gardner explains.
Even if the FDA doesn't address the issue directly, some organizations see consumer pressure playing a key role in phasing out "all-natural" as a label buzzword, since customers may become wary of what it actually implies. One thing is clear, however: when devising a labeling strategy, it's important to find one that is honest and resonates with your ideal consumer. A color label printer can help you target and reach that audience.