After recently reading an article in an industry trade magazine regarding the vague nature of the word “natural” as it pertains to use in the labeling of packaged foods, we were curious to understand how a company can best promote its healthy products that are in fact “all natural*, even if the products may not be organic and its manufacturing practices prohibit the use of genetically modified materials (GMO’s). It’s quite a challenge.
As both an organic and conventional manufacturer of granola, trail mixes and granola bars we are committed to producing the best tasting, healthiest product in the most responsible way. We even baked “Natural” into our Company name! No one would have considered this an issue in 1977, when New England Natural Bakers was founded. While many food manufacturers take liberty with the term “Natural,” ultimately they must honor their own conscience-driven guidelines. This use, or misuse, of this term is not a new issue, yet it remains confusing to consumers and a slippery slope for manufacturers.
Earlier this year the State of Vermont attempted to pass a Bill that would have required the labeling of genetically engineered foods sold within the State. While ultimately the Bill did not pass, it created the framework for continued discussion. The overwhelming support for this level of transparency reaffirmed the need for the FDA to revamp its labeling requirements, so that consumers can make well informed choices. Fair and accurate labeling practices are not an added benefit; it’s a responsibility that all manufacturers should embrace. Until there are labeling laws in place that will address customer concerns, this will remain a challenge for the “natural” manufacturer, committed to delivering healthy food.
We don’t pretend to have a solution to this delicate and often charged debate, the feedback we receive in the field illuminates the challenges around this topic; whether it’s questioning our use of the word natural or an assurance of non-GMO’s in our products. That being said, New England Natural Bakers is a certified organic manufacturer, proud member of the OTA we also produce conventional products. NENB has been producing non-GMO products before the term “GMO” existed and only sources materials from suppliers who adhere to the same guidelines. Our internal tracing and tracking of Organic and our non-GMO compliance standards have been recognized by auditors and vendors alike as extremely comprehensive. This level of diligence is our ongoing commitment to our loyal customer base that has come to expect healthier options at reasonable prices. The best way to promote a natural product is to make one!
Good Day! Governor Granola
*The term "natural" applies broadly to foods that are minimally processed and free of synthetic preservatives; artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors and other artificial additives; growth hormones; antibiotics; hydrogenated oils; stabilizers; and emulsifiers. Most foods labeled natural are not subject to government controls beyond the regulations and heath codes that apply to all foods.
Disclaimer: This is a personal weblog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of New England Natural Bakers.