In a recent blog I touched on the word ‘natural’ discussing how many manufacturers of consumer products loosely use this term. This of course can lead the consumer to believe the product to be somehow superior in health benefits i.e. not based in synthetic chemicals. The term ‘naturally derived’ is becoming more common and we, the consumer need to be wise about what we are actually purchasing. Because of that we will delve a little deeper into the world of ‘naturally derived’ products and what this actually means.
The Scientific American explains ‘naturally derived’ as;
“Synthetic chemicals are made by humans using methods different than those nature uses, and these chemical structures may or may not be found in nature. This definition means a synthetic chemical can be made from a natural product 
Interestingly Australian Certified Organic (ACO) Australia’s leading organic certifier notes on their website that the term ‘natural’ is becoming increasingly common as the consumer market seeks safer alternatives for personal care and food products. Because of that many manufacturers seek to fill the need by clever marketing. ACO states that;
“Natural ingredients are not certified by a third party organization like organic raw materials, and due to this the lack of regulation the term natural has been applied to ingredients derived from GMO materials, or to ingredients that although initially derived from natural sources, have lost any ‘naturalness’ after so many synthetic chemical treatments. 
Interesting – so many so-called natural ingredients “have lost any ‘naturalness’ after so many synthetic chemical treatments”- their words not mine.
So how can we as consumers have a little more confidence when we see the words ‘naturally derived’? ACO & EcoCert (COSMOS) have raw material databases listing ingredients that are used by raw material suppliers and manufacturers to make personal care and skin care products. These natural ingredients (some of which may not be organic) will have undergone a strict accreditation process to ensure that the ingredients are ‘natural’ in the truest sense. Looking out for the following logos can be a step in the right direction if you are seeking some direction in the ‘naturally derived’ mine-field.
ACO (Australian Certified Organic)
Next week we will be discussing organic certifiers in more detail. It’s all about being informed.
 Reeser, Dorea in ‘Scientific American’ http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2013/04/10/natural-vs-synthetic-chemicals-is-a-gray-matter/ (sourced 31 January 2014)