Two thirds of grocery shoppers are being misled by foods being labeled as natural when they aren’t necessarily what consumers would think of as being natural foods. Customers who are trying to avoid products that were grown with hormones, pesticides and other harmful chemicals will often still find these in products with the ‘natural’ label.
Labeling a food as being natural comes with a certain persona and consumers who see this label have certain expectations about what they are purchasing. Often times, food that is deemed to be natural can be sold at a higher price than products that do not have the label. Consumers are being tricked into thinking that certain foods are better for them and that this healthier lifestyle must come with a much higher price tag. These labels can be found on all sorts of products including cheese, vegetable oil, meat, fruit products, drinks and much more. Mislabeling can go beyond the label of what is considered natural. Products with a ‘no GMO’ label often still contain hormones, pesticides or other harmful chemicals. As of right now, what can and cannot be labeled as natural is quite vague causing this labeling, or mislabeling, to continue, but there are groups trying to work on getting this changed.
As of March 14, 2016, there has been little media coverage on the topic. There has been no corporate media coverage on the topic, but some coverage on alternative media sites such as AlterNet, FoodSafety Magazine and the Guardian.
Andrea Rock, “Peeling Back the ‘Natural’ Food Label.” Consumer Reports, January 29, 2016, http://www.consumerreports.org/food-safety/peeling-back-the-natural-food-label/.
John T. Shapiro, “Naural or Unnatural – That Is the Lingering Question.” FoodSafety Magazine, March 1, 2016, http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/natural-or-unnaturalthat-is-the-lingering-question/.
Junrell, “‘Natural’ Food Labels Confuse Consumers, Advocates Say.” Parent Herald, February 25, 2016, http://www.parentherald.com/articles/23300/20160225/natural-food-labels-confuse-consumers-advocates.htm
Madeleine Somerville, “Natural’s not in it: just because a product calls itself ‘natural’ doesn’t make it good.” Guardian, March 8, 2016, http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/mar/08/natural-products-food-labeling-healthy-living-consumer-research
Reynard Loki, “Two-Thirds of All Shoppers Are Tricked by the Word ‘Natural’ at the Supermarket – Are You One of Them?” AlterNet, March 2, 2016, http://www.alternet.org/food/two-thirds-all-shoppers-are-getting-tricked-word-natural-supermarket-are-you-one-them
Student Researcher: Laura Beamish (University of Regina)
Faculty Evaluator: Patricia W. Elliott (University of Regina)