“The FDA has for far too long dodged its responsibility to define ‘natural’ as it applies to food products,” said Ronnie Cummins, the group’s national director, in a statement. “Recent class action lawsuits make it clear that consumers are tired of being misled by food manufacturers. It’s time for the FDA to make it unlawful for food manufacturers to label their products ‘natural’ when those products contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).”
The group is supported by organic food companies and advocates for public health and environmental issues.
The FDA has not developed a legal definition for “natural” food, making it a somewhat ambiguous term.
On its website, the agency says that it “has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.”
The petition comes after a July legal settlement in which Pepsi agreed to remove labels calling its Naked Juice line of beverages “all natural.” The company also paid a $9 million settlement as part of the class action suit.