Only 38 percent of U.S. consumers trust what companies say on labels about their food products, according to a 2015 report from Mintel, which was created for Applied Food Sciences Inc.’s (AFS) innovation retreat on clean label energy.
Natural is not enough. Just because an ingredient is grown in nature does not mean it is healthy. Certain factors easily can compromise the health and safety of a naturally derived ingredient. For example, the use of harmful pesticides in cultivation, or the use of harsh chemicals in processing, can leave behind residual substances that are nearly impossible to remove. Therefore, just because something is naturally sourced does not mean it is “clean.” Organic certification is one way to ensure ingredients are coming to the label in the most natural means possible.
“Because the term ‘all natural’ is under a lot of scrutiny, even our customers with non-organic product offerings are seeking to formulate with our USDA-certified organic ingredients,” said Jackson Zapp, vice president of innovation, AFS, which specializes in organic functional ingredients designed for beverage applications. “AFS has pioneered several organic extraction techniques that utilize water and other safe organic solvents to purposefully leave out potentially harmful chemicals, allowing us to provide ingredients that genuinely fit a ‘clean label’ definition.”
When it comes to sourcing ingredients, many product makers need to be aware of other regulatory definitions as well. For conventional food and beverages, all natural ingredients must either be approved food additives or determined GRAS (generally recognized as safe).
“As the FDA continues to focus its attention on manufacturing compliance for dietary supplements, many companies are looking to reposition their liquid products as beverages,” said Justin Prochnow, a shareholder at the law firm Greenberg Traurig LLP. “A fundamental aspect of beverages is that all ingredients must be approved food additives or GRAS. Self-affirmed GRAS ingredients in beverages alleviates the need for a company to go out and get its own GRAS no-comment letter from the FDA. Organic is yet an even bigger plus. Companies that are offering self-affirmed GRAS organic ingredients are clearly out in front of the rest of the marketplace.”
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