Should a 90-percent synthetic product be labeled natural? The International Association of Natural Product Producers thinks not, and has spent nine months creating a clear definition of the term natural, so consumers and retailers can have more confidence in products touting the unregulated, often ambiguous term.
?The term natural has been so abused because it doesn?t have a specific definition,? said Darrin Duber Smith, IANPP president. ?We?re trying to give it a specific identity.?
The IANPP, formed for the sole purpose of setting up a voluntary standard for products containing natural ingredients, has put together draft definitions for natural topical and ingestible ingredients. Now up for public comment, the definitions present clear requirements for products to meet in order to carry the IANPP label. The proposed definitions can be viewed at www.ianpp.org/natural.htm. Duber Smith said the group is also working on a list of non-natural ingredients that will be disallowed.
Though thoughts of government regulation are distant, Duber Smith said the IANPP hopes a certifying agency like NSF International or Quality Assurance International will participate in the self-regulatory labeling system within the naturals industry.
Duber Smith said the organization hopes to produce its own private seal, similar to the National Organic Program seal, which would assure customers that products have been approved by a nonprofit certifying agency to meet the IANPP?s standards. Labeling divisions may include 70 percent, 90 percent or 100 percent natural categories, similar in style to the NOP?s labels.
?It will differentiate our products,? said Duber Smith, who expects tens of thousands of companies to pay the organization?s $150 annual membership fee, which could mean a big increase in business for the certifying agency, he said. So far, more than 25 companies have joined IANPP, including Jason, Aubrey, Naturade, Frutarom and Swheat Scoop.
These new standards could be especially helpful to personal care companies, which cannot use the NOP organic seal, though many of their products use the terms organic or natural on their labels. The IANPP?s label would represent a standard for consumers to trust. ?We have to clean up our industry mess right now,? Duber Smith said.