Saturday, July 11, 2009

Organic vs. natural a source of confusion in food labeling

"To us, it means it's produced without added hormones, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or high fructose corn syrup,"

At first it may seem only right for Dean Foods, the nation's largest organic dairy producer, to roll out a line of yogurts and milk marketed as "natural."

But Dean's announcement last week alarmed advocates of organic food, who say the burgeoning market for less expensive "natural" foods reaps billions from consumers while guaranteeing little or nothing in exchange.

Certified organic food products are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and produced by farmers and manufacturers under a strict set of rules. But the agency defines the term "natural" only for meat and poultry. In the rest of the food industry, the meaning is largely up to the producer.

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