“Natural.” Legally speaking, it’s a deceptively complex word, but the Food and Drug Administration wants to change that.
What Does Natural Mean, Legally Speaking? (The Jury Is Still Out.)
The FDA wants to “establish a meaningful definition for ‘natural’ so that [the] term would have a common consumer understanding, and whether ‘natural’ claims [should be prohibited] entirely on the grounds that they are false or misleading.”
“Natural” food advertising lawsuits have skyrocketed. According to a report by Perkins Coie LLP, 2015 saw 53 class actions involving labels donning the words “natural” or “all natural.” Despite the number of cases, courts and regulatory government agencies have yet to agree on a national standard.
92% Natural Is Not The Same As “All Natural”
Is it OK to use the phrase “all natural” or “100% natural” if the majority of a product is derived directly from nature? According to the Federal Trade Commission, no it’s not. Jessica Rich, a former director of FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, once explained:
“‘All natural’ or ‘100 percent natural’ means just that—no artificial ingredients or chemicals.”
The FTC targets brands that market mostly-natural products as “all natural.”
The Problem With The Word “Natural”
An FTC assistant director, Richard Cleland, explained the difficulty with using “natural” on food labels:
“You have different kinds of products that make natural claims, and the consumer understanding of the word natural may depend on what kind of product is being attached to [the term].”
Connect With A Marketing Lawyer
Knowing when to use “natural” is only one of the FTC’s marketing rules. Are you familiar with the others? If not, start with this handy list or promotional dos-and-don’ts.
Are you ready to speak with an attorney who helps businesses with legal marketing issues? If so, please get in touch. Our team is here and ready to help with any and all FTC and business consultation needs.
Long, J. (2017, June 20). FTC Official: Research Needed to Study Consumer Understanding of ‘Natural’. Retrieved September 13, 2017, from https://www.naturalproductsinsider.com/blogs/insider-law/2017/06/ftc-official-research-needed-to-study-consumer-un.aspx