Defining Food Terms & Categories: Gluten Free, Fair Trade & Natural

Defining Food Terms & Categories: Gluten Free, Fair Trade & Natural

Read through our glossary of food trend definitions below to gain a better understanding of food terms in our continuing series:

Gluten Free

Gluten Free has become a popular category in food products. Gluten is a common name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale and helps foods keep their shape. Individuals that suffer from celiac disease suffer from an autoimmune disorder in which they have gluten intolerance that causes damage to the small intestine. There are also individuals that have a gluten intolerance or live a gluten free lifestyle for health reasons.

Gluten Free is defined by the FDA as either a food that “is inherently gluten free; or does not contain an ingredient that is:

1) A gluten-containing grain (e.g., spelt wheat)

2) Derived from a gluten-containing grain that has not been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat flour)

3) Derived from a gluten-containing grain that has been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat starch), if the use of that ingredient results in the presence of 20 parts per million (ppm) or more gluten in the food.

Also, any unavoidable presence of gluten in the food must be less than 20 ppm.” (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2015)

The Gluten Free logo is not standardized by one governing body. Each gluten-free certification program has their own label which is why you might see a variety of different logos.  Some examples include:

Gluten Free1             Gluten Free2            Gluten Free3

Learn more about Gluten Free here and here.

Fair Trade

“Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade.  It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalised producers and workers, especially in the South.  Fair Trade Organizations (backed by consumers) are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade.” (Wills, 2014)

Fair Trade Principles:

  • Fair prices and credit
  • Fair labor conditions
  • Direct trade
  • Democratic and transparent organizations
  • Community development
  • Environmental sustainability

There are several Fair Trade organizations that maintain these principles and perform and uphold the verification process. For example, there is Fair Trade USA which is based in the United States and FairTrade International which is more common in Europe and Canada.

Fair Trade Certified Label Options (according to Fair Trade USA guidelines):

  • 100% Fair Trade Certified Ingredients: Agricultural ingredients like coffee, honey, mangos may use the Fair Trade seal.
  • More than 20% Fair Trade Certified Ingredients: This label applies to processed foods or ingredient specific item labels like Cocoa, Tea or Sugar.
  • Less than 20% Fair Trade Certified Ingredients: Items with less than 20% FTC ingredients may not have any of the seals on the packaging, but may use the words “Fair Trade Certified™ [Ingredient]” anywhere on the packaging. (Fair Trade USA, 2013)

Georgia Nut Company can work with customers to source Fair Trade Certified chocolate or other ingredients to fit their needs.

Fair Trade USA Seals

fair us             fair us2

Fairtrade International Seals

fair trade

Learn more about Fair Trade here and here.


Natural is a term with much contention as it has not truly been defined. According to the USDA, meat, poultry, and egg products labeled natural must be minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients. The FDA has not defined the term for food labeling and currently requested consumer comments and opinions on the matter. Presently, the FDA has not challenged the notion of natural as not containing added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances. Therefore, natural is more of a marketing term without valid recognition and streamlined verification. (FDA, 2016)

Manufacturers that use the term natural are in fact looking for a clean label. Georgia Nut Company produces a line of products that do not contain artificial colors or flavors.

Learn more about natural here.


Fair Trade USA. (2013, December 9). Label Use Guide. Retrieved from Fair Trade USA:

FDA. (2016, May 9). “Natural” on Food Labeling. Retrieved from U.S. Food and Drug Administration:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2015, September 4). ‘Gluten-Free’ Now Means What It Says. Retrieved from U.S. Food and Drug Administration:

Wills, C. (2014, October 29). History of WFTO. Retrieved from World Fair Trade Organization: