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The Saturday Food Chain with Michael Olson- December 07th 2013- SLAYING NATURAL FOOD-Should any food be labeled “Natural”? Guest: Stephen Gardner, Director of Litigation Center for Science in the Public Interest

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Should any food be labeled “Natural”?

Guest:  Stephen Gardner, Director of Litigation Center for Science in the Public Interest

It is a food selling $40 billion a year, but there is really nothing to it but a suggestion that really doesn’t mean anything.

Many of the foods once labeled “Natural,” like Goldfish crackers, Naked juice, and Silk soy drink, are now shedding the label to become, well, whatever is next!

Consider, for example, Silk, a milk-like drink made from soy.  Silk was introduced as an “organic” food in 1996 by the White Wave Company at the Natural Foods Expo in Anaheim.   In 2002, White Wave was purchased by Dean Foods, and by 2005 the organic drink was generating sales in of $350 million a year.  In 2009, Dean switched from organic soybeans to conventional beans, and Organic Silk became Natural Silk.  Today, Silk is just Silk. 

One of the reasons food and drink companies, like Dean, PepsiCo, and Campbell Soup are shedding the natural label is to avoid an avalanche of lawsuits alleging false advertising.  According to a recent post in the Wall Street Journal, at least 100 lawsuits have been filed in the past two years “challenging the natural claims of Unilever PLC’s Ben & Jerry’s, Kellog Co.’s Kashi, Beam Inc.’s Skinnygirl alcohol drinks and dozens of other brands.

These lawsuits lead us to ask…

Why do consumers spend $40 billion a year on the suggestion of natural? 

Why are some trying to litigate foods labeled natural off the shelf?

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