Last year, according to Nielsen, foods labeled “natural” generated $43 billion in sales.That’s more than five times the figure for foods carrying an “organic” label ($8.9 billion).
Meat from livestock fed genetically modified corn, for example, can still be labeled “natural,” as can animals raised with regular doses of antibiotics. And the USDA has no regulations at all for labeling natural foods that do not contain meat or eggs.
More than half of those surveyed said that they specifically looked for a “natural” label on their foods.
There’s just one problem: There are no real federal regulations around the word “natural.”
Even with the lack of regulation, plaintiffs can sue companies individually for false advertising—and in recent years, consumers have done just that. In 2013, PepsiCo. agreed to a $9 million class action settlement fund after plaintiffs complained about Naked Juice’s “all natural” labeling that belied ingredients like genetically modified soy.