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Consumers and Industry Need 'Natural' Definition, IDFA Says

May 11, 2016

In comments submitted yesterday, IDFA strongly encouraged the Food and Drug Administration to establish a regulatory definition for the term “natural” through the rulemaking process.  A clear set of criteria for “natural” labeling claims would help to educate consumers, establish expectations and provide fair and consistent direction to the food industry, IDFA said.

Currently, FDA considers the term “natural” to mean that nothing artificial or synthetic, including colors, has been added to a food that would not normally be expected to be in that food. In its call for comments, FDA asked whether and how it should define the term “natural,” what the appropriate use of “natural” on food labels would be and whether agriculture production practices should be considered in the criteria.  

After calling for a clear-cut definition, IDFA provided comments in six specific areas: 

  • FDA should not limit “natural” claims to only raw agricultural commodities or single-ingredient foods;
  • An ingredient’s “natural” status should be based on its source rather than its function, except when synthetic vitamins are used;
  • The definition for “natural” should permit the addition of vitamins and minerals to a food in line with existing FDA requirements without regard to the “natural” status of the vitamins or minerals;
  • The methods used in agricultural production, including genetic engineering, should not be considered in determining whether a food or ingredient is “natural”;
  • FDA should recognize and maintain the longstanding use of the term “natural cheese” and exempt it from the “natural” claim criteria; and
  • FDA should set specific criteria for appropriate types of processing for foods using a “natural” claim rather than specify a list of permitted processes.

Read the comments for more details.

For more information, contact Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs, at

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