Despite enormous consumer interest for all things “natural”, what actually constitutes a “natural” food ingredient has long been up for debate. Except for a few attempts by the Codex Alimentarius Commission in the late 1990s, there have been no internationally agreed requirements in terms of natural food ingredients and food processes – that is, until the advent of technical specification ISO/TS 19657:2017, Definitions and technical criteria for food ingredients to be considered as natural.

The purpose of this document is to provide the necessary criteria for food ingredients to be considered as “natural”, which the food and beverage industry and public authorities can universally refer to at a time when goods are traded freely around the world.

In some regions of the globe, the absence of such criteria has even led to lawsuits. The new ISO/TS 19657 therefore proposes criteria for business-to-business communications on food ingredients that are considered as “natural”, helping to level the playing field and secure fair business practices within the food and beverage industry. The document doesn’t apply to product communication to consumers, such as package labellings.

Dominique Taeymans, Convenor of the working group that developed the technical specification, explains: “This technical specification contains the basic guidelines that will allow food and beverage industry professionals to speak the same language. This is not a straightforward subject, so giving professionals a common basis to fall back on is already a big step forward.”

ISO/TS 19657 addresses the needs of all food and beverage companies and food ingredients manufacturers, regardless of their size and complexity. This document will help to ensure fair practices in all business relationships.

ISO/TS 19657:2017 was developed by ISO/TC 34, Food products, under its working group 18, Natural food ingredients. It can be purchased from your national ISO member or through the ISO Store.