As far as food manufacturers go, ice-cream maker Ben & Jerry’s is actually pretty progressive. The company combats climate change through various campaigns, supports family farmers, and sources the paper for its containers from sustainably managed forests.
Plus, Phish Food is hands down the most delicious ice cream ever. But the company’s ice cream is not made from “all-natural” ingredients, and both Ben and Jerry finally stopped claiming that it is.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) recently asked Ben & Jerry’s to remove the “all natural” stamp from its ice cream containers, claiming that ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, alkalized cocoa, and hydrogenated oil are far from natural. These ingredients are, in fact, quite heavily processed. Ben & Jerry’s heeded CSPI’s demands and agreed to remove the “all natural” label from its ice cream containers.
Ben & Jerry’s may be the one taking heat from CSPI, but the ice cream maker is hardly alone in its misuse of the “all natural” label. Other ice-cream makers like Edy’s/Dreyer’s, Breyer’s, Friendly’s, Turkey Hill, and more do the same exact thing. Breyer’s advertises that its ice cream is “all-natural” even though it contains ingredients like corn syrup, alkalized cocoa, and malt powder.
A carton’s of Edy’s also boasts “all natural flavors,” but lists ingredients like corn syrup, alkalized cocoa, and artificial food dyes like Red #40 and Blue #1. Corn syrup and alkalized cocoa may boost the dessert’s flavor, but they’re hardly all natural. They’re made in factories, for goodness sake!
And it’s not just ice-cream makers who mislead consumers with an “all natural” label. Food products from cookies to yogurts to sauces to cereals come with glowing, “all natural” labels, but actually contain ingredients that are decidedly man-made in a weird science-type of way.
The real problem here is that while the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates the use of the “all natural” label on animal products like beef and poultry, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fails to provide any kind of definition on what constitutes an “all natural” food item. Because there’s no definition, food manufacturers can feel free to slap the phrase on any food item they choose, even neon-colored “fruit” snacks that spew sugary goo when you bite into them.
Many consumers fail to realize that the “all natural” label means nothing, so they seek out these products thinking they’re choosing a snack that’s good for them and the planet. It’s yet another deceptive marketing strategy created and perpetuated by the FDA and unscrupulous food manufacturers.