Organic vs. Natural: What’s the Difference?

As a consumer in the United States, you have the right to know what you are consuming. However, you may be confused by food product labels, and unsure of the difference between claims of “organic” vs “natural.” Here’s what you need to know about all-natural vs. organic in the United States–

What Is Organic?

In order for a product to lawfully carry the label “organic,” it must meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) organic standards.

Food that is organic is food that is grown according to FDA regulations that address:

  • Soil quality (learn more about soil contamination);
  • Animal welfare and animal raising practices;
  • The use of herbicides, pesticides, and insecticides; and
  • The use of any additives.

Further, produce can only be called organic when no prohibited substances have been applied to the soil in which the product is grown for a minimum period of at least three years. You can read more about prohibited substances here. Learn about our herbicide Roundup litigation.

Something that is labeled “100 percent organic” has 100 percent organic ingredients, and is not allowed to contain any non-organic ingredients or additives, with the exception of salt. If a product is labeled simply “Organic,” this means that at least 95 percent of the product’s ingredients are organically produced.


The label “all-natural” or “natural” has been called an imposter of organic, as many consumers believe that natural and organic are the same thing, despite the fact that they are very distinct. In fact, the FDA has not developed a definition for the term natural, nor any of its derivatives. Indeed, the word “natural” alone means nothing, and is subject to the whims and arbitrary choices of a product manufacturer. Some companies may use “natural” to say that their product doesn’t contain GMOs or hormones, whereas a company could just as equally use any of the products/methods banned by organic standards and call their product natural.

Many food stores and supermarket chains will have signs touting their “natural” products; be sure to read the labels carefully before purchasing. This is especially important for those who want to only eat an all organic diet or for those may suffer from food allergies. This is also particularly important when considering cosmetic products, lotions or moisturizers. Many people can have a severe reaction to certain chemicals and may only be able to use certain products as a result.

Deceptive Marketing Tactics Harm Consumers

At the law offices of Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, we strongly believe in consumers’ rights to know what they are eating, and believe that deceptive marketing tactics–like labeling something “all-natural” without clarifying what that means–can lead to consumer harm. Many times you may think you are buying you are buying a nutritious, natural meal for you, your family and/or friends but the reality is different.

If you think that you may be a victim of defective labeling, contact us today. We provide free consultations to all potential clients. There is no obligation and we only receive a fee if we win your case.