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The term “Clean Label” seems to conjure up images of a strict government or FDA imposed ingredient list that must be adhered to by manufacturers under draconian regulations. The term “Clean Label” originates with concerned consumers looking for more natural ingredients in their food but also varies with the source of each interpretation, an interesting if not confusing subject.

Clean Labels have roots in the distrust of synthetic food ingredients and additives with unpronounceable names. A great portion of these components have been safely used for decades and have identifiable benefits. Many consumers just do not understand whether their fears of these ingredients are valid, the whole of society seems to be shifting into all-natural mode even if they are justifiable or not.

These consumers are looking for ingredients they might find in their grandmother’s cupboard with simple origins that the family garden might provide. Simple recipes with fresh ingredients, not foods with names so scientific sounding as to be unpronounceable. Artificial flavors and colors, “chemical-sounding” names and artificial additives not found in nature are just a few of the ingredients that consumer may or may not understand and even strike fear into their palettes.

As a result of this type of consumer demand, intelligent producers are reformulating foods to clean up their labels. Keywords like “no artificial…all natural…vegan…” and simplified descriptions are forcing the entire food industry to take a much closer look at their list of ingredients in a way that ensures compliance solely with a changing consumer view.

What are producers, manufacturers, grocery stores, and restaurants doing about it?

What’s in Your Food?

Certain nationwide chain restaurants created their own versions of clean label policies by compiling lists of unacceptable ingredients for their foods (known as no-no lists) by providing suggestion cards to their patrons who seized the opportunity to put down even their most challenging demands.

While the term Clean Label first appears around 2017, the next generation of Clean Labels has already appeared and continues to evolve. These newest Clean Labels will augment component lists by encompassing ingredient sourcing and traceability, company histories and even ethical issues in the forefront of changing consumer demands while remaining sustainable.

consumers are willing to pay a handsome price for clean labels reflecting their belief in simple is better. 44% of Americans are willing to pay 75% more for ingredients they recognize and trust. Consumers are placing increasing importance on understanding ingredients on a product label and typically trust ingredients like milk, eggs, and flour. But they distrust ingredients that seem to come straight out of a laboratory such as potassium sorbate, mono- and diglycerides- even though these have been safely used with reliable results for decades. Clearly clean labels challenge both producers and end users.

“44% of Americans are willing to pay 75% more for ingredients they recognize and trust.”

Recently a consumer food brand marketing spokesperson pointed out that “Consumers are demanding cleaner labels but even the consumers themselves do not understand exactly what that means.”

The three most popular clean label attributes cited by consumers were “free from artificial ingredients” (36%), “natural/organic claims” (34%) and “no pesticides/chemicals/toxins” (31%).

Clearly the term “Clean Labels” is not an exact science by any measure and that is precisely the conundrum faced by producers and manufacturers regarding this new measure of ingredients.

What Makes “Clean Label” Significant to the Cannabis Space?

In an ideal world all food and ingredients ingested by consumers would be all-natural and organic, free from all contaminants however the selection of food would shrink to a tiny fraction of the multitude available right now, even with strict laws regarding what ingredients are listed and acceptable.

At this moment the federal government’s food watchdog is the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a long-standing agency charged with protecting the purity, quality and safety of food, drinks, supplements and more. With so many manufacturers out there, the FDA’s job is much larger than we imagine.

With the legalization of cannabis and its’ byproducts for over 10 years, the FDA still has not handed down solid regulations regarding these products and as a result, certain manufacturers have chosen to produce products that do not meet the minimum standards found in other foods.

But the FDA is a FEDERAL agency and as of 2022 they are moving exceedingly slowly in developing the regulations concerning cannabinoids regarding food, beverages, and supplements. It is simply not a priority at the federal level although that may soon be changing based upon recent events.

However, numerous states have legalized either medical marijuana or recreational marijuana and have taken the liberty to have their own food safety and purity entities review these ingredients and have issued more specific regulations. But with so many different states involved, it is impossible to navigate each individual specification found in each and this is another impetus for clean labels.

The two main vehicles for CBD and cannabinoid delivery in these products are cannabis oil and nano. Both are established methods to make cannabinoids edible and, in a form, necessary to use in foods and beverages, however the process to transform basic cannabis plant material is loaded with chemicals and inert ingredients, lots of direct effort is necessary which make both expensive to produce.

Manufacturers do not currently have a solution to deliver a pure product that merits a Clean Label.

Can Nano Earn a Coveted Clean Label Designation?

Important Information

The fast answer is easy: NO. Nano simply cannot ever be pure enough to earn a Clean Label.

The very definition of cannabis oil and nano includes a plethora of chemicals and compounds that simply cannot be replaced with all natural ingredients. Here is just a sampling of ingredients found in cannabis oil and nano and the list is staggering in both the number of additives and the complexity of each, particularly with finding acceptable substitutes that would earn any Clean Label attribution.

Dichloroethane, acetone, acetonitrile, benzene, butanes, chloroform, ethanol, ethyl acetate, ethyl ether, ethylene oxide, heptane, hexane, isopropyl alcohol, methanol, methylene chloride, pentane, propane, toluene, total xylenes, trichloroethylene are just a sampling of the included ingredients.

Unfortunately, there are more. Pesticides, heavy metals, filth, foreign material, pathogens, and the dreaded mycotoxins from decomposing and rancid plant material as these are harmful to humans.

The conclusion is obvious. There are no all-natural substitutes for the majority of these ingredients and that makes cannabis oil and nano impossible to earn a Clean Label under any circumstances.

What is Clean Label 2.0?

If Clean Label originally meant “simple is better” we think minimal excipients and processing agents, no artificial colors, or flavors, free from synthetic ingredients, preservatives, allergens and gluten and a non-GMO product. The bar is set higher for Clean Label products as it is all about what’s NOT in the product such as preservatives and consumers are willing to pay more for these types of products.

Clean Label continues to evolve and becomes more challenging for food formulators to keep up with each new definition. No one knows exactly what consumers will demand of products in the future, producers are just trying to keep up with the current wishes.

“Clean Label 2.0” is more difficult to define and goes much deeper into the transparency of how and where the products are sourced as consumers want to understand the history of the product.

Now more savvy consumers want to know specific details about agricultural methods used such as GMO or pesticide usage, environmental sustainability, treatment of workers and fair-trade practices. Even the company’s social mission and business ethics are fair game for scrutiny while consumers are looking for a compelling story behind a brand and the dedication and experience of the people behind the brand so they may justify the purchase and feel good about how the products came into being.

Putting all that information on an ingredient label is just not practical and firms need to find other ways to express this for the satisfaction of the modern-day consumer as they are willing to pay significantly more for just such a product.

The Philosophy Behind Clean Labels

Clean Labels ore not a government regulation or even an industry requirement, but a philosophy, a guide if you will, prompted by changes in consumer behavior. No longer tolerant of an extensive list of unpronounceable chemical compounds, today’s consumers take the time out of increasingly busy days to ensure they and their families are only ingesting “nature’s own” into their bodies.

We at Hemp Synergistics agree with most ideas presented by Clean Labels however we are cautious in adopting this philosophy as it removes too many of the tried-and-true helpful and healthy ingredients that have been successfully used over the past few decades.

The work of researchers and scientists over the years has had a positive impact on foods, won the approval of the FDA and most consumers and now they are being asked to justify the mere names of these ingredients as being “good or bad” regardless of their actual effectiveness or adverse effects.

A Q&A session with Chief Operating Officer and nano expert Ron Fazio is coming soon to answer all your questions about nano and its modern-day innovative alternative Bio-Dri™
Here are a few samples. Tell us your questions or concerns and get answers from one of the top scientists in the entire cannabis industry!

Is nano all-natural?
Why can’t nano pass a “Clean Label” test?
Can nano be manufactured with only good (clean) ingredients?
Is nano the best method for taking CBD?
What ingredients are found in nano?
Is nano bad for your health?

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