Here’s something formulators need to keep in mind: While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to define the term “natural” as it applies to ingredient and food descriptions, consumers instinctively “know” it when they see it.

“Commonly used terms such as ‘clean label’ and ‘natural’ have led to confusion in the food industry because of their different meanings to different people,” Kemin Food Ingredients, Des Moines, IA, stated in a Web posting on the company’s Expertise Forum. “Food manufacturers think of ‘clean label’ and ‘natural’ as tools that allow them to list ingredients in a simplified and consumer-appealing manner. Consumers on the other side do not differentiate between ‘clean label’ and ‘natural’ and perceive both as more wholesome, free of chemicals, nothing artificial, safe, no GMO, organic and sustainable.”