The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Community News Network

November 20, 2012

Slate: Government shouldn't regulate which foods are 'natural'

(Continued)

What will happen in these cases? It's hard to say since there are no laws about the "natural" claim, and the Food and Drug Administration has done its best to ignore the issue. An article by Dawn Goulet published on the website of the American Bar Association lays out the recent history: In the early 1990s, the agency started working on a formal definition of the claim but backed off on account of what it called "resource limitations and other agency priorities." That left in place an advisory opinion — as opposed to a binding regulation — saying only that natural foods are those that lack "artificial or synthetic" additives.

The agency punted once again in 2007, in the middle of a furor over whether high-fructose corn syrup was an artificial product or just a natural form of sugar. A representative said, "We're not sure how high of an issue it is for consumers." When Snapple faced a lawsuit over high-fructose corn syrup in 2010, the FDA had another chance but failed to offer any guidance to the courts and said that consumers could read the ingredients off a package and decide for themselves whether they were natural. (That doesn't help with unlabeled GMOs, however.) It also argued that it had more important things to do than rule on what a loosey-goosey term should mean.

The government has a point. Food scientists at the FDA are not equipped to handle such matters of natural philosophy.

When the agency was established at the beginning of the 20th century, its mandate did, in fact, emerge from a crisis of authenticity — what was known back then as the "Era of Adulteration." According to Benjamin Cohen, a professor at Lafayette College who is working on a book about this period, consumers had begun to panic over falsely labeled products: coffee cut with bark and dandelion leaves, sugar mixed with sand, margarine that pretended to be butter.

Text Only
Community News Network
  • Dangerous Darkies Logo.png Redskins not the only nickname to cause a stir

    Daniel Snyder has come under fire for refusing to change the mascot of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, however, are far from being the only controversial mascot in sports history.  Here is a sampling of athletic teams from all areas of the sports world that were outside the norm.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • 'Rebel' mascot rising from the dead

    Students and alumni from a Richmond, Va.-area high school are seeking to revive the school's historic mascot, a Confederate soldier known as the "Rebel Man," spurring debate about the appropriateness of public school connections to the Civil War and its icons.

    July 28, 2014

  • Fast food comes to standstill in China

    The shortage of meat is the result of China's latest food scandal, in which a Shanghai supplier allegedly tackled the problem of expired meat by putting it in new packaging and shipping it to fast-food restaurants around the country

    July 28, 2014

  • wd saturday tobias .jpg Stranger’s generosity stuns Ohio veteran

    Vietnam War veteran David A. Tobias was overwhelmed recently when a fellow customer at an OfficeMax store near Ashtabula, Ohio paid for a computer he was purchasing.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 1.33.11 PM.png VIDEO: High-dive accident caught on tape

    A woman at a water park in Idaho leaped off a 22-foot high dive platform, then tried to pull herself back up with frightening results. Fortunately, she escaped with only a cut to her finger.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • CATS-DOGS281.jpg Where cats are more popular than dogs in the U.S.-and all over the world

    We all know there are only two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. But data from market research firm Euromonitor suggest that these differences extend beyond individual preferences and to the realm of geopolitics: it turns out there are cat countries and dog countries, too.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • How spy agencies keep their 'toys' from law enforcement

    A little over a decade ago, federal prosecutors used keystroke logging software to steal the encryption password of an alleged New Jersey mobster, Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., so they could get evidence from his computer to be used at his trial.

    July 25, 2014

  • Russia's war on McDonald's takes aim at the Filet-o-Fish

    Russia said earlier this week that it had no intention of answering Western sanctions by making it harder for Western companies to conduct business in Russia.
    But all bets are off, apparently, when you threaten the Russian waistline.

    July 25, 2014

  • Arizona's prolonged lethal injection is fourth in U.S. this year

    Arizona's execution of double-murderer Joseph Wood marked the fourth time this year that a state failed to dispatch a convict efficiently, according to the Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal group.3

    July 24, 2014

  • Police Brutality screen shot. Technology plays key part in battling police brutality (VIDEO)

    Allegations of police brutality are nothing new -- as long as there has been law enforcement, citizens have registered claims that some officers cross the line. But in the last few years, the claims of excessive force are being corroborated with new technology from cell phone cameras, police dash-cams and surveillance videos. 

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo