Urging the FDA to Regulate the Term “Natural”

The Animal Legal Defense Fund submitted comments to the FDA calling on the agency to work with the USDA to prevent consumer deception from meat products bearing misleading “natural” labeling claims.


December 31, 2016

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In 2016, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Center for Biological Diversity jointly submitted comments to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calling on the agency to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to properly regulate the use of the term “natural” in the labeling of meat and poultry products.

We recommended that the term be defined in a way that aligns with what consumers reasonably believe “natural” to mean when it comes to the care and raising of farmed animals.

The comments argued that, to prevent a likelihood of consumer confusion, the FDA must prohibit the use of the “natural” claim on meat and poultry product labels when those products come from animals raised in ways that are anything but natural: when they are fed sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics or other veterinary drugs, injected with growth hormones, and confined without any outdoor access, in spaces that prevent the animals from performing natural behaviors.

In its comments the Animal Legal Defense Fund called out Hormel Foods’ Natural Choice lunch meat and bacon products’ “natural” claims as particularly deceptive, due to the manner in which the animals sourced for the products were raised and the products were produced.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is pursuing a separate consumer protection lawsuit against Hormel regarding their Natural Choice advertisements.

No federal laws govern how farmed animals are raised and most state cruelty laws exempt standard agricultural practices.

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