(NaturalNews) The term "natural" has virtually no standardized definition when used on food labels in the US, but manufacturers are increasingly interchanging it with "organic" in order to save money and fool customers. And it turns out that many health-conscious consumers actually prefer the term "natural" over "organic," which is why many food manufacturers are making the switch without incident.
By definition, certified organic food products are grown without chemical pesticides or herbicides, they do not contain genetically-modified (GM) ingredients, they are not fumigated with toxic chemical gases, and they are not processed with chemical solvents. "Natural" products, on the other hand, are not necessarily any different than chemical-ridden conventional products since there are no laws governing the use of the term in conjunction with food.
But according to the recent Cornucopia Institute (CI) report Cereal Crimes: How "Natural" Claims Deceive Consumers and Undermine the Organic Label -- A Look Down the Cereal and Granola Aisle, 50 percent of consumers polled in a 2009 and 2010 study preferred the term "natural" over "organic," and falsely believed it to imply a healthier product. Another similar study found that consumers prefer the term "natural" as the "most desirable eco-friendly product label claim" (http://www.cornucopia.org/2011/10/natural-vs...).
As a result, many food manufacturers have jumped on the "natural" bandwagon, including some healthier brands that used to produce only certified organic products. Many NaturalNews readers will recall the Silk soy milk saga, for instance, when the Dean Foods-owned company quietly switched from certified organic to "natural" (http://www.naturalnews.com/027450_food_foods...) -- this is a growing trend of which you need to be aware.
In the same vein, the CI report highlights several popular cereal brands that have either converted to, or that have always used, the term "natural" rather than "organic" on their product labels. Peace Cereal, for instance, which used to be organic, now sells only "All Natural" cereals. Annie's Homegrown did the same thing with many of its products as well, converting them to "natural" rather than certified organic.
What does this mean for consumers? Natural products can still contain GMOs, pesticide and herbicide residues, and other undesirable additives and ingredients -- and in many cases, these phony products are priced the same or higher than real organic products. Do not be fooled.