Natural ingredients?

What does the term “natural” mean to you in regards to food? When I hear or read that term, I think of happy cows peacefully grazing on a lush green field or of ripe fruit with droplets of dew reflecting the sunlight from yet another perfect morning in the orchard.

Seems I’m dreaming.

It could also mean a test tube in a laboratory.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s decided in January not to define the term, leaving it open to intepretation. It seems they were busy dealing with more pressing food issues.

Leaving anything open to interpretation to some marketers and companies is a bit like giving your kids candy and telling them they can only eat one piece a day :).

Some companies producing artificial sweeteners have been marketing their products stating they are natural, but some would say the process for creating artificial sweeteners is so involved and intense in relation to chemical processes, the finished product is hardly natural. The same goes for sodium lactate flavoring in meat.

If the term is going to be used so loosely, you could say that crude oil is made from natural ingredients I guess; as is an atomic bomb.

Another tricky ingredient listing is “Nature Identical” which I write more about in my article Identifying Mysterious Ingredients.

I’m not sure what the deal is in Australia, Canada and the UK is with the use of the term “natural ingredients”. Do these countries face similar interpretation issues as the USA? I searched around a bit for Australian related information but really couldn’t find anything definitive.