Image: Ice cream
Toby Talbot  /  AP
A majority of the ice cream maker's recipes contain at least one ingredient the Center for Science in the Public Interest says should not be labeled as "natural."
updated 9/27/2010 8:33:39 PM ET 2010-09-28T00:33:39

Ice cream maker Ben & Jerry's is dropping the phrase "all natural" from all labels after a request from a health advocacy group.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest and the company confirmed the move Monday.

The CSPI told the company last month it should not use "all natural" if products contain alkalized cocoa, corn syrup, hydrogenated oil or other ingredients that are not natural.

Ben & Jerry's, a unit of consumer products giant Unilever, said it's not changing any recipes. It's just removing the label from all products, whether they are among the majority that contain at least one of the ingredients CSPI listed or not.

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The Food & Drug Administration has no formal definition for "natural." But it won't object to term as long as products do not contain added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances.

The CSPI, based in Washington, said the government should define the term.

"The Food and Drug Administration could do consumers and food manufacturers a great service by actually defining when the word 'natural' can and cannot be used to characterize a given ingredient," CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson said in a statement.

Ben & Jerry's spokesman Sean Greenwood said the change would happen gradually across Ben & Jerry's product line.

The ingredients will be the same ones Ben & Jerry's has always used, but the company no longer wants to battle over the definition of "all natural," which has different meanings to different people, Greenwood said.

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"Ben & Jerry's has always been a company that tried to source as responsibly as possible, label our products accordingly and let it all out there for people to see," he said. "But this takes away any misconceptions for people."

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