Organic & Natural’s Advocacy Priorities
O&N is dedicated to:
- Creating and promoting transparent business practices that safeguard access to organic and natural food, products and services.
- Encouraging research and clinical studies in the natural products industry.
- Supporting development of rational standards for claims substantiation and the communication of truthful and non-misleading information.
As such, the association will respond and take action in support of this mission and to advocate for and defend the interest of businesses serving the natural products marketplace – in particular, O&N members – and to preserve and protect the interests of organic and natural consumers.
O&N’s immediate priorities include the following:
- Define “natural” and create rational standards for certification of natural food, goods and services.
- Protect and preserve current organic standards.
- Advocating on behalf of consumer interests as they relate to organic and natural.
- Guiding health policy towards a wellness model by funding and otherwise supporting quality research initiatives and the scientific evaluation of how nutrients impact health outcomes.
Preserving the Integrity of Organic
Organic labeling standards set by the federal government have strict guidelines and policies. Today, the only organic seal that guarantees optimal quality of organic foods is the USDA Organic Seal. Products bearing this seal have to meet the strictest of standards of any of the currently available organic labels. Organic & Natural is committed to promoting the USDA’s organic standards and the expanded use of the USDA seal across market segments. We will support policy that strengthens the impact of organic in the marketplace.
Advocating for the Consumer
Organic & Natural will advocate for policy and practices that restore the health of the environment and promote and advance public health by transforming our current food, farming, and manufacturing systems. Our collaboration between consumer and business will give voice to the need for transparency in the manufacturing and marketing of food, products and services. Our initial efforts will result in increased access to quality, climate-friendly, and sustainable food, dietary supplements, cosmetics and pet food.
Defining and Certifying Natural
Under current FDA guidance , “natural” can simply refer to products that “do not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.” Other than offering this non-binding guidance, FDA has stated it has no plans to define the term. Absent a definition and certification process, the use and misuse of the term is being adjudicated in the court system.
Consumer misperception of what constitutes natural is adversely impacting organic. In the food sector alone, sales of natural products have exceeded $40 billion, outpacing sales of organic products. The interests of health-conscious, information-seeking consumers and those of companies genuinely attempting to produce and deliver natural food, products and services to the marketplace are not being served.
Organic & Natural has conducted a consumer research study as the first step in setting the standard for the term “natural.” The online research study of 1,005 U.S. consumers was conducted by Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) and found that 1 in 3 consumers do not make a quality distinction between the terms “natural” and “organic” and/or government regulation for products with such labels. In the research study, consumers indicated that they were more likely to use “natural” than “organic” foods; in fact, 60 percent reported using organic less than once a week or not at all with more than a third using natural once a day or more. Given the study results, Organic & Natural will require the definition of natural, like organic, to translate into 95 percent of all ingredients qualifying as such, with explicit definition of ingredients qualifying for the 5 percent exclusion. For additional information on the study, please click here.
Organic & Natural’s seal for natural will require companies to adhere to guidelines that incorporate nationally accepted certifications like organic and non-GMO. In addition, companies will be required to demonstrate compliance with good manufacturing processes (GMPs), supplier verification requirements and testing protocols. The O&N criteria also will evaluate each company’s sustainability practices, including appropriate consumption and restoration of environmental resources, and attention to employee welfare and animal welfare practices. O&N will steadfastly and vigorously stand by the products that earn the right to carry O&N’s seal as well as the companies who produce them.
Natural Products Research
Organic & Natural is working with internationally recognized leaders in the scientific community to conduct and promote research initiatives that will demonstrate the impact of nutrients in ingredients and products on healthcare status. For years the natural products industry has battled media reports misrepresenting dietary supplements as being unregulated, ineffective and even dangerous. O&N will sponsor research on nutrients and their impact on disease prevention and wellness. These scientific studies will be published in peer-reviewed literature. In some cases this work will serve as documentation to support truthful and non-misleading health claims. Over time and as a whole, these studies (or this body of work) will benefit consumers by paving a sound and reliable pathway to public policy rooted in prevention and wellness versus today’s disease-driven healthcare system.