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ASA rulings: what is 'natural'?

Date added: 10/05/2017

ASA rulings: what is natural?

I always keep an eye on the Advertising Standards Authority as it occasionally produces rulings that have far-reaching consequences. The latest one to catch my eye involves the use of “100% natural”, a term that can be found on a myriad of food and drink products, creating a nice halo effect with the express aim of attracting consumers who fear additives.

The product in question was a range of juice drinks by Appy Food & Drinks’ aimed at children for which a claim was made on the website that “we ONLY make 100% natural, tasty and healthy products”. This was felt to be misleading by a consumer (or perhaps competitor) because the products contained calcium lactate and glucose-fructose syrup.

European food law states that products can only be called ‘natural’ if they are single foods of a traditional nature, to which nothing has been added and which have been subjected to minimal processing. Compound foods made from more than one ingredient can claim to be ‘made from natural ingredients’ if all of the ingredients meet the above criteria for being called natural.

In the case of the Appy drinks, the addition of calcium lactate and glucose-fructose syrup invalidated the naturalness of some of the other ingredients even though the company claimed that these additives were similar to ingredients found in nature, and the syrup had been made by hydrolysing corn.

So, it is now official – natural products don’t contain commercially produced additives. This is a win for consumers and should be taken seriously by manufacturers.