The Food and Drug Administration now will accept information and comments on the use of the term “natural” in the labeling of human food products until May 10, according to the Dec. 28 issue of the Federal Register. The previous deadline was Feb. 10, but the FDA extended the comment period by 90 days because of public requests.

The FDA initially asked for comments on “natural” labeling in the Nov. 12 issue of the Federal Register. The labeling could include foods that are genetically engineered or contain ingredients produced through the use of genetic engineering.

The FDA currently considers the term “natural” to mean that nothing artificial or synthetic, including all color additives regardless of source, has been included in or added to a food that would not be expected in the food normally. The current policy was not intended to address food production methods, such as the use of pesticides, nor does it address food processing or manufacturing methods, such as thermal technologies, pasteurization or irradiation. The FDA currently does not consider whether the term “natural” should describe any nutritional benefit or other health benefit.

The FDA requests information and public comments on the appropriateness of defining the term “natural,” on how the agency should define “natural” and on how the agency should determine the appropriate use of the term on food labels.

Electronic comments may be submitted at Written/paper comments should be sent to Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration; 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061; Rockville, MD 20852.