CSPI sent a letter to Paul Polman, CEO of B&J parent company Unilever, on Aug. 12 urging that the brand drop the claim in cases in which it is misleading -- at least 48 out of 53 B&J flavors, by CSPI's estimate.
In a letter following a meeting between CSPI and Ben & Jerry's, CEO Jostein Solheim stressed that the company uses the most natural ingredients it can find, and is confident that its products are "all natural" as reasonable consumers would understand that term.
However, he added that Ben & Jerry's doesn't want questions regarding the all-natural claim, and that the company does not believe that this claim is the best way to convey the brand's current "core values." All-natural claims will be supplanted by a greater focus on the brand's use of milk from family farms that do not use rBGH, use of certified fair trade ingredients and certified cage-free eggs, and use of suppliers that "work for social justice," he stated.
The Food and Drug Administration does not have a formal definition for the word "natural," but previous statements from the agency have consistently discouraged the use of the term because its ambiguity may mislead consumers.