READ THE LABEL [CHAPTER 5] What does “natural” mean?


As you’ve probably guessed, “natural” means all kinds of things. Everyone seems to have their own definition. Here are a few I found just to put your mind at ease. (Yes, I’m being sarcastic.)

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) [As it applies to meat and poultry only.]

“Those products carrying the “natural” claim must not contain any artificial flavoring, color ingredients, chemical preservatives, or artificial or synthetic ingredients, and are only “minimally processed” defined by USDA as a process that does not fundamentally alter the raw product.”

The USDA further defines synthetic as:
“A substance that is formulated or manufactured by a chemical process or by a process that chemically changes a substance extracted from naturally occurring plant, animal, or mineral sources, except that such term shall not apply to substances created by naturally occurring biological processes.”

Federal Drug Administration (FDA)
Ingredients extracted directly from plants or animal products as opposed to being produced synthetically”

Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients
“Product that is derived from plant, animal or microbial sources, primarily through physical processing, sometimes facilitated by simple chemical reactions such as acidification, basification, ion exchange, hydrolysis, and salt formation as well as microbial fermentation.”

Consumers Union
[Publisher of Consumer Reports, which is an independent, nonprofit testing and information organization serving only consumers]

“Natural is a general claim that implies that the product or packaging is made from or innate to the environment and that nothing artificial or synthetic has been added.”

Other dictionary sources define “natural” as:

    • present in or produced by nature
    • produced using minimal physical processing
    • directly extracted using simple methods, simple chemical reactions or resulting from naturally occurring biological processes?

Natural ingredients are…

  • not produced synthetically
  • free of all petrochemicals
  • not extracted or processed using petrochemicals
  • not extracted or processed using anything other than natural ingredients as solvents
  • not exposed to radiation
  • not genetically engineered & do not contain GMOs (genetically modified organisms)

    Natural ingredients do…
  • not contain synthetic ingredients
  • not contain artificial ingredients including colors or flavoring
  • not contain synthetic chemical preservatives

So who regulates the labeling of “natural” products?
Sadly, there is not a single organization within the United States in 2013 that certifies skin care products as “natural.” It’s simply left to the ethical discretion of the manufacturer. If you’ve met me or sat in one of my presentations, you’ll know that some major brand names are playing mind games with their consumers. Be careful, be educated, and just boycott those products!

Remember, not all synthetic chemicals added to skin care is harmful, and not all products labeled as “natural” are safe.

Stay tuned for more excerpts from my presentation “READ THE LABEL: Understanding Natural and Organic Skin Care.”

Written by Dahlia Kelada, from her presentation READ THE LABEL: Understanding Natural & Organic Skin Care  © 2013 All Rights Reserved

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