A growing number of food and drink companies including PepsiCo and Campbell are quietly removing 'natural' claims from packages amid lawsuits challenging the description. The FDA is unsure how to define it.
|Scooped by Taylor Zimmerman|
Back in the early Wild West days of advertising, companies could get away with saying anything they wanted to say about their product. There was no Federal Trade Commission that regulated what was said by companies and prevented them from misleading publics (Guth & Marsh, p.g. 169). This is actually where the term snake oil sales man comes from as companies tried to promise whatever they could about a product in order to sell it – even if it was categorically untrue.
In modern day advertising, businesses walk the line between truth and fantasy as they use image oriented advertising to make subconscious claims that their products are wholly satisfying and perfect. While there are some off limits words a company can use (e.g. Organic or Grass fed) because they are regulated by USDA standards, businesses can take liberties in saying whatever else they like about their product.
Recently, Pepsi Co. came under fire for its use of the phrase “all natural” when describing its Naked Juice product. Investigators found numerous synthetic materials and an ingredient derived from formaldehyde in their juice. The court ruled that even though the word natural is not one of the protected words by the USDA, it still implies that the food is using ingredients from the earth (i.e. not synthetic).
In this article, the author highlights several companies that are slowly removing their “all natural” labels as more and more of them are facing increasing litigation. Stephen Gardner, litigation director at Center for Science in the Public Interest said, “There’s a boatload of litigation and that is going to continue until companies stop conning people.”
Removing an all-natural label is a form of listening to the public but in the wrong way. Instead of listening to customer complaints and making changes necessary to the product to match the advertising, businesses are fine with just changing the wrapping on their products to remove legal liability. Essentially, they’re just leaving consumers in the dark about their product.
This does force consumers to be more critical about their food and beverage choices relying on more central processing to get the best product. The only real setback for Pepsi Co is that they cannot use “all natural” to imply healthy and to encourage an impulse buy, but they still get to keep the ingredients the same. After all, their synthetic ingredients don’t have to show up on the label because they fall under the natural flavors category.