Have you noticed all the food items on grocery store shelves with labels that say "Natural", "Organic", "Local", and "Free Range"? Often these food items have a higher price tag than their traditional counterpart. It can be very confusing shopping. One third of all new food and beverage products launched in 2008 made "natural claims" according to the Mintel Global New Products Database. The term "natural" has no real definition. The USDA allows food to be labeled "natural" if it contains no artificial ingredients or added colors and is minimally processed. This means that many products can fall under the "natural" claim. For example, products made with high fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oils could be labeled as "natural". Most of us would say that added sugars and fats are not healthy. Natural is not the same thing as organic. Organic foods have been certified as meeting USDA standards, which follow a long list of requirements and policies and procedures. Animal products raised with the use of artificial hormones and even genetically modified organisms can be labeled natural.
What is the best thing to do? Read the label very carefully. Look at the list of ingredients on the label and the Nutrition Facts Section on the label. Then decide if the product is right for you. Remember even though the product may look, sound and even taste healthy does not mean that it actually is.
Source: Illinois Extension Service