UK Food Standards Agency Seeks to Define 'Natural'

The UK's Food Standards Agency is revising its best practices guidance for food labeling terms, particularly natural, fresh, pure, farmhouse and traditional. In addition, the scope of the guidance will now encompass terms such as handmade, quality, selected, premium, finest and best. The voluntary best practices 'advice,' is necessitated, according to a very debatable Agency announcement, because the terms lack legal definitions, yet "generally have a meaning that is commonly understood." 

The guidance consultation will conclude on January 21, 2008 (not 2007, as the press announcement states).

Of the new guidance, Agency food labeling and marketing terms branch head Stephen Pugh said, "We want to help consumers by encouraging the adoption of consistent, transparent labeling practices. We carried out a survey that showed many businesses are not taking on board the suggested best practice approaches set out in our original guidance. As a result we commissioned consumer research to establish commonly understood meanings which form the basis of the updated advice. We want to encourage businesses to adopt a consistent approach to the use of these terms and avoid using those that might be misleading."

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