What’s a Natural Flavor, Anyway?

What is this?

health supplements
Abbie’s not sure what that is, do you know?

Amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamyl valerate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl acetate, ethyl amyl ketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotropin, hydroxyphenyl-2-butanone (10 percent solution in alcohol), a-ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butyrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, rose, rum ether, g-undecalactone, vanillin, and solvent.

This is a typical artificial strawberry flavor, like the kind found in a strawberry milk shake. Often flavor compounds contain more ingredients than the foods that they give flavor to.

The federal Food and Drug Administration does not require companies to disclose the ingredients of their color or flavor additives so long as all the chemicals in them are considered by the agency to be GRAS (generally recognized as safe).

Artificial flavors and colors are made from petroleum and one of its byproducts, benzene, a flammable colorless, carcinogenic, sweet-smelling, liquid solvent. Artificial vanilla manufacturing starts a long way from tropical orchid flower fields, the origin of real vanilla. Synthetic vanilla flavoring, called vanillin, is made in petrochemical plants in China and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

To make things more confusing, aspartame, monosodium glutamate and MSG are often masked by other names: natural flavors, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, monsodium glutamate, hydrolized plant protein, plant protein extract, sodium caseinate, calcium caseinate, yeast extract, textured protein, autolyzed yeast, hydrolized oat flour, malt extract, malt flavoring, bouillon, broth, stock, flavoring, natural flavoring, natural beef, chicken flavoring, seasoning, spices, carrageenan, enzymes, soy protein concentrate, soy protein isolate, whey protein concentrate.

What’s a mom to do? Of course read labels, but don’t be fooled by the nutrition label. Eat whole foods and only buy pharmaceutical grade supplements from US manufacturers.

3 thoughts on “What’s a Natural Flavor, Anyway?

  1. Croatoan says:

    In simple terms, a natural flavor is defined as a substance extracted, distilled or otherwise derived from plant or animal matter, either directly from the matter itself or after it has been roasted, heated or fermented. Note the inclusion of “animal matter” in this definition, an important revelation to vegetarians and those who adhere to the kosher segregation of meat from dairy products. But animals are just as natural as plants, are they not? Note also that a natural flavor need not come from the very food it is flavoring. For example, a flavor chemical derived from chicken — and it need not taste like chicken — can be used to flavor a can of beef ravioli.


  2. Marlo Hughen says:

    Did this post answer the question? Seems to me it answered the question “What is an artificial flavor?”. Honeslty I am not sure what a NATURAL flavor is, or are you saying that artificial flavors are called natural? I am wondering because I am suspicious of that label “and other natural flavors” on things that hint at being more natural, like whole wheat crackers, or juices in particular…
    Marlo, You’re right! A better title is, “What is an artificial flavor?” A natural flavor is something you recognize: vanilla, not vanillin. It should come a real food, not a chemical.
    Nonna Joann 🙂

  3. Pingback: How natural are “natural flavors”? | Effortless Eating

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