FDA gives food industry more time to define 'natural'

FDA gives food industry more time to define 'natural'
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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has agreed to give food industry groups more time to weigh in on what "natural" should denote on product labels.

The agency asked the public to comment in November on whether it should define the term and set guidelines for its use on food products, including those that are genetically engineered or made with genetically engineered ingredients. 

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Public comments were originally due Feb. 10, but the Natural Products Association (NPA) asked the FDA for an additional 90 days to gather input from its members.

“Defining ‘natural’ is a major undertaking, and NPA feels that no harm will result from FDA extending the comment period due to the interest, significance, and complexities surrounding the topic,”  Dan Fabricant, the group’s executive director and CEO, said in a news release earlier this month.

Although the FDA has not yet engaged in a formal rulemaking to define the term “natural,” the agency said it has long considered it to mean that nothing artificial or synthetic, including color additives, was used in producing the food.

The public now has until May 10 to submit comments.