The Sugar Association lobby group has filed a formal petition urging the Food and Drug Administration to "undertake rulemaking to establish specific rules and regulations governing the definition of 'natural' before a 'natural' claim can be labelled on foods and beverages regulated by the FDA."

The group propose that food products should meet two criteria before being eligible to be labelled 'natural'. Firstly, the Sugar Association argues, food should not contain anything artificial or synthetic and, secondly, it should not be more than 'minimally processed'.

The group has called for consistency across Federal agencies, suggesting that the Department of Agriculture definition of what constitutes 'natural' with regards to meat and poultry should be universally adopted.

In support of its suggestions, the Sugar Association pointed to a national survey of American adults conducted by Harris Interactive. The research demonstrates that 76% of respondents agreed that the USDA standards should be applied to all foods.
"A growing number of consumers have already made the value judgment that 'natural' foods and ingredients are important when purchasing foods and beverages for themselves and their families," stated Andy Briscoe, president of the Sugar Association. "Further, for those companies deciding to manufacture or market 'natural' products, a clear, consumer-friendly definition of the term 'natural' would provide the very continuity such claims require and would help eliminate misleading practices."