The FDA Doesn’t Regulate the Word “Natural”

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I’ve always chuckled at how Kashi was placed upon the throne of “natural” cereals. People trusted the brand name and swore they were “eating healthy” if they were eating Kashi. A “natural” cereal, however, is a bit of a stretch – it is sort of like saying there is a natural soda or a natural Twinkie. That said, Kellogg’s Kashi brand has received some bad press lately.

The controversy went viral a week ago after a Rhode Island grocer tacked a note to one of his store shelves, telling customers he wouldn’t sell the cereal because he found out the brand used genetically engineered, non-organic ingredients. Photos of the note began popping up on Facebook pages and food blogs as some consumers claimed Kellogg was misrepresenting its cereal.

The soy in Kashi cereals comes from soybeans that have had a gene inserted to protect the soybeans from the herbicide Roundup, which kills weeds.

Kashi has done nothing wrong, says David DeSouza, Kashi general manager. “The FDA has chosen not to regulate the term ‘natural,’ ” he says. The company defines natural as “food that’s minimally processed, made with no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or sweeteners.”

The word “natural” is one of the most abused words in the marketing orbit. After all, looking at the definition above, wouldn’t packaged rattlesnake poison qualify as “natural?” The Big Food, corporate state conglomerates are mighty good at maneuvering within FDA guidelines and intentionally misrepresenting their products while banking on the ignorance of consumers. In the end, however, I blame the consumers who refuse to take accountability for the acquisition of simple knowledge on food matters and thus doom themselves to perpetual ignorance and self-imposed serfdom.

5:25 pm on May 6, 2012