Consumer Beware – Many 'All Natural' Products Are Anything But Natural

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How does the average consumer know if the “All Natural” label claims made by products are true or not? While federal regulatory bodies continue to be understaffed and overwhelmed, unscrupulous manufacturers continue to promote many chemical based products as "All Natural". This growing scam is fast becoming a major problem for consumers and retailers alike.

It's a dangerous situation for consumers and retailers and as a parent it scares me. One product we tested actually markets the stuff as safe for pregnant and nursing women, but it was filled with Propylene Glycol. It had nearly 1 gram per liter which is quite ecessive for any product that you ingest

How does the average consumer know if the “All Natural” label claims made by products are true or not? While federal regulatory bodies continue to be understaffed and overwhelmed, unscrupulous manufacturers continue to promote many chemical based products as "All Natural". This growing scam is fast becoming a major problem for consumers and retailers alike.

To answer the call of truth, a new consumer organization is aiming to clean up the largely unregulated “All Natural” market. According to officials from the “Certified All Natural Association,” (CANA), many of the food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical products sold in stores today are illegally mislabeled. While “Natural” and “All Natural” claims are used properly on the packaging of many well known and respected products, there’s a growing pool of manufacturers blatantly lying to consumers, retailers and the government.

CANA is a nonprofit organization created to police the labeling practices of products claiming to be “All Natural”. From pharmaceuticals to food, CANA is out to help the (FDA) Food and Drug Administration and FTC (Federal Trade Commission) monitor all products making natural claims.

CANA is the brainchild of Wayne Perry, founder and president of SiCap Industries, a homegrown company specializing in natural (Capsaicin) hot pepper based health products. In 2003, Sicap launched the world’s first “All Natural” hot pepper nasal spray known as “Sinus Buster”. Within 2 years, the company had grown by leaps and bounds guiding their flagship product to the shelves of more than 1,000 retailers.

Recently, SiCap Industries began testing various natural products in a third party lab to get a sense of quality in the marketplace. After testing only a handfull so-called "All Natural" products, SiCap found several mislabeled brands almost immediately. According to SiCap officials, they found chemicals such as Propylene Glycol in products that were labeled as "Chemical Free" and "All Natural".

“It's a dangerous situation for consumers and retailers and as a parent it scares me. One product we tested actually markets the stuff as safe for pregnant and nursing women, but it was filled with Propylene Glycol. It had nearly 1 gram per liter which is quite ecessive for any product that you ingest," says Perry.

That's when he decided to start CANA. According to Perry, he just couldn't stand the fact that some manufacturers could get away with mislabing natural products while his company strictly adhered to providing consumers with complete and correct information.

"There’s plenty of organizations that certify the safety of products including some great organic groups, but there’s no stand out advocate group to certify the honesty of natural products. That’s when it hit me. I decided to start CANA with seed money from Sicap Industries. Not only will we test products for manufacturers looking for our seal of approval, but we will also test suspicious products sent to us by consumers, retailers and the media. CANA will pick up the lab testing costs and we’ll report the findings publicly. At SiCap we take pride in giving the consumer all the correct labeling information. Not just because it’s the law, but because it’s the right thing to do. When a consumer buys an all natural product, they have a right to know that it’s truly natural,” adds Perry.

CANA is presently accepting applications from manufacturers of natural products to help certify their products as “All Natural”. According to board members, CANA will use (third party) FDA certified laboratories to test all natural product claims. Products found to be properly labeled as “Natural” will then receive the rights to use CANA’s “Certified All Natural” logo.

“Once a product has been deemed natural by our group, the manufacturer will then be licensed to use our official stamp of approval showing the product has been certified all natural. The manufacturer can then use this certification seal on their packaging and advertising. Most importantly, consumers can easily identify the natural products they’re looking for with complete confidence. It’s a win win situation for everyone involved – especially the consumer,” adds Perry

Strict standards are being set in place by CANA’s board members to certify products based on their total naturalness – meaning CANA officials will offer different levels of certification based directly on the ingredients used. While no synthetic preservatives or additives are allowed, some natural additives synthesized into commercial forms are. For instance, Ascorbic Acid, (Crystalized Vitamin C) is synthetically processed from a variety of citrus based fruits. Although the process to extract and pulverize the Vitamin C is managed by human production methods, the end product itself is still certified as “Natural”.

On the other hand, if a product’s active ingredients are natural, but it also contains preservatives and solvents such as Propylene Glycol or Parabens, it is deemed to be “Un-natural” and will not be certified by CANA.

“The standards for determining the naturalness of a product will be based on individual labeling claims and natural connections with the ingredients. All testing will be conducted by a third party certified lab, and the results will be made public. So we figure any manufacturer looking for certification will certainly be confident of their product’s labeling integrity. If our tests show the product to be mislabeled, not only will the company be disallowed from our recommendation, but we’ll also publicize the results both in the media and on our website http://www.certifiedallnatural.org. You can bet on that,” adds Perry.

Aside from offering third party certification to natural product manufacturers, CANA is also putting out an open call to all concerned consumers, retailers and media personnel. The organization is presently accepting submissions of products that may be mislabeled or misrepresented as sent in by suspicious consumers.

Some of the warning signs a consumer should look for when spotting potentially mislabeled products are:

  • Poison Control Warnings
  • Incomplete Labels
  • Missing Expiration Dates
  • Vague Directions & Uses
  • Extraordinary Claims
  • Missing Product Seals
  • Confusing Ingredient Names
  • FDA Claims with no NDC number on Packaging
  • Clear Liquids with an alcohol aroma

To learn more about CANA, contact them directly through the information provided with this release.

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Wayne Perry
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