Consumers are increasingly looking for food products of “natural” origin in the belief that these may have a beneficial impact on their health. As a consequence, those products that communicate nutritional information in a more transparent way are extensively rewarded. Those products are then referred to as having a “clean label”, which in common practice preaches of:

  1. Making a product with as few ingredients as possible
  2. Use only ingredients that are easily recognizable by consumers and considered healthy
  3. Try to eliminate additives

Especially on the last point, many critical issues and gray areas have developed: the main reason is due to a cognitive bias of consumers, combined with a regulatory vacuum. Public opinion in fact associates all the ingredients written in scientific terms on the nutrition label (E + numbers) as necessarily of synthetic origin, therefore harmful to health. However, for the Legislator, all additives, regardless of their origin, must be written according to those standard protocols that are now viewed with enormous distrust by consumers. In addition to this, we must also consider that additives are often necessary in packaged products, for different reasons, from preservation to tasting.

In this borderline situation, many companies have taken several different steps in terms of communication efforts. Some realities have had the possibility to “correct” the name of some natural additives to bring them back as ingredients (the most trivial example is citric acid corrected as lemon juice). Others proposed the insertion of natural additives, also in small amounts, in the form of natural extracts to “clean” the ingredients list.

As a result of this general market confusion, authorities were forced to harmonize directions by removing the margin of discretion initially granted to producers. In Europe, given the urging of several countries, including the Netherlands, there is pressure towards a standardization of the entire discipline that regulates all natural additives, both for the ones used more frequently and those recently introduced.

The scenario is constantly evolving. Contact us at for any clarifications and to formulate the best of tomorrow’s products today.