In a recent letter to the Corn Refiners Association, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that synthetically produced high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) may be labeled as “natural” under certain circumstances.
FDA longstanding policy on “natural” claims was, “not to restrict the use of the term ‘natural’ except for added color, synthetic substances, and flavors as provided in §101.22. Additionally, the agency will maintain its policy regarding the use of ‘natural,’ as meaning that nothing artificial or synthetic (including all color additives regardless of source) has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in the food. Further, at this time the agency will continue to distinguish between natural and artificial flavors as outlined in §101.22.” 58 Fed. Reg. 2407 (Jan 6, 1993).
The July 3 FDA letter states that the agency would object to calling HFCS “natural,” if synthetic enzymes or synthetic processing aids remained in the final product. However, FDA does not object to synthetic HFCS being labeled as “natural” if no synthetic enzymes or processing aids end up in the final product.
Frankly, this is a tortuous interpretation. Unless you like dancing on a pin, I urge caution in applying this “clarification.”
Hat tip to Lynn Kuntz of Food Product Design for bringing this to my attention.