Products Marked "Natural" May Not Be
It may come as a surprise, but there is no government regulation that controls the use of the word “natural”, even in food. The FDA has remained silent on the issue for years, but that silence may not last long now that consumers are filing suit. The suits allege that consumers were tricked into buying more expensive products based on false labeling. Sargento, Wal-Mart, and HINT have already had cases filed against them, but they won’t be the last if the FDA continues to leave everyone in the dark.
Both Sides of the Issue Seek Clarity
The lack of regulation from the government is confusing, considering both sides want to be clear on the issue. The manufacturers want to know how to avoid suits by labeling their products correctly, while consumers want to know what they are buying.
As litigation on the issue continues to increase, so does the effect on how U.S. courts treat class-action lawsuits. Groups who want huge reforms to the class-action system, like the Institute for Legal Reform, are using it as a platform to smear attorneys, claiming the suits are only money-making schemes. The problem with that position is that class-actions are often the only way for consumers to fight back against large corporations. Hopefully, the FDA will settle the issue soon by taking an official position on what the word “natural” means, but who knows what (or when) that could be.