When it comes to food labels, we all need to be very careful if we want to make sure we are not signing up for unsavory, hidden ingredients. One of the biggest food packaging lies to pull one over on millions of consumers is the “all natural” label.
When we think of a “natural” food, genetically modified ingredients likely do not surface. However, testing by Consumer Reports has found that an overwhelming amount of processed foods made with corn and soy, labeled as “natural,” contain “substantial” amounts of GMOs.
But, are people ingesting these GMOs knowingly, or are they being fooled? Evidence suggests the latter, as Rodale News reports that 64 percent of people believe that the “natural” label means no GMOs are included. Sadly, this is certainly not the case.
For their recent analysis, Consumer Reports bought over 80 different processed foods which contained corn and soy, and found that nearly all of them contained GMOs, except for those labeled “Organic” and “Non-GMO Project Verified.”
GMOs have become an increasing worldwide concern, as many worry that there have been no long-term studies done as to their health effects, and their effects on the environment. However, what studies have been done have come up with some disturbing results. Exposure to glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, for example, has been linked to higher rates of cancer. Many GMOs are engineered to be resistant to this dangerous chemical, allowing more of it to be sprayed.
The problem with the “natural” label on foods is that it lacks true definition. The term, as defined by the FDA, is vague, and only prohibits products with added artificial flavors, colors and ingredients. This leaves the door wide open for highly processed preservatives, GMOs and other additives, as they can be argued to have originally come from a natural source.
In fact, in an appalling move last spring, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) wrote a letter to the FDA requesting that their products be officially allowed to be called “all natural.” People are not having it, however, and many big-name food companies, including General Mills, Kellogg, Kashi and Chobani, have been sued for misleading consumers into thinking their foods are natural when they are anything but.
According to Jean Halloran, Consumer Reports’ director of food policy initiatives, “foods that are frozen, made from concentrate, or homogenized are all required to be labeled. Why shouldn’t products containing GMOs also be labeled? Shoppers are being misled when they buy products labeled ‘natural’ given their expectation that they are getting foods that contain no GMOs.”
As GMO labeling efforts at the state level pick up pace nationwide, there is much we can do at home to avoid these potentially harmful ingredients. Sticking to whole foods, in a truly natural state, and cooking meals at home is ideal. Anything packaged or processed is highly suspect.
If you do pick up a package of something at the supermarket, read your label very carefully – if it says “all natural,” don’t trust it – it’s time to look deeper.
-The Alternative Daily