What Makes Natural Flavour So Natural?

December 12, 2017

What Makes Natural Flavour So Natural?

In today’s shopping climate, consumers have started to regularly read ingredient labels to educate themselves on exactly what they are putting in, on, or near their bodies. In that process, the word “artificial” has become a dirty word with a poor reputation, but food can still be found with artificial and natural flavours alike. So what exactly are “artificial” flavours, and are they really so different from the natural flavours that consumers seem to prefer?

What makes natural flavour so natural? - Aromatic Ingredients

A Brief Background Into Food Flavouring

It goes without saying that you can pick a peach or apple off of a tree and enjoy it without any added flavour ingredients, but we no longer live in a world where all food is fresh and organically grown. The majority of consumers regularly eat and purchase processed foods like cereal, pasta, granola bars, chips, and anything else that can be found in the middle rows of the grocery store. All of these products need added flavours in order to offer the desired taste. According to David Andrews, Senior Scientist at EWG, “natural flavour” is the fourth most common ingredient listed in the more than 80,000 foods that EWG has researched.

As Andrews explains, “A great deal of scientific engineering and design time goes into crafting flavours for processed foods. This specialised work is done by professional flavourists who are responsible for the majority of flavours in nearly all food processed in the United States.” The volatile chemicals in each food determine which flavour must be added in order to create a satisfying taste that customers continue to crave.

What Makes “Natural Flavour” So Natural?

Consumers are comforted and encouraged by the word “natural”. It gives the impression that the foods they are eating will not cause dangerous health consequences. The Code of Federal Regulations defines a natural flavour as an “essential oil, oleoresin, essence… which contains the flavouring constituents derived from a spice, fruit, vegetable…or similar plant material… whose significant function in food is flavouring rather than nutritional.” In addition to plant flavours, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, and fermentation products also qualify.

Consumers are comforted and encouraged by the word “natural”. It gives the impression that the foods they are eating will not cause dangerous health consequences. - Aromatic Ingredients

Given all of this, natural flavours are created from chemicals extracted from real, natural ingredients. Natural coconut flavouring, for example, requires the chemical massoya lactone. Massoya lactone is only obtainable from the bark of the Massoya tree that grows in Malaysia. This means that the natural flavour is difficult and expensive to obtain. In the case of natural coconut flavour, it even has negative environmental costs because the tree must be killed to obtain the flavour. These difficulties with natural ingredients have led to the formation of artificial flavours.

natural flavours are created from chemicals extracted from real, natural ingredients. - Aromatic Ingredients

If you’re looking for more information on Natural and Artificial flavourings you’ve come to the right place. Here at Aromatic Ingredients we have experts in flavours to help you answer all the questions you’ve been asking. Call us on 03 9702 3698 or contact us via email sales@aromaticingredients.com.au and look out for part 2 in our series on Flavours and Fragrances, “Is Artificial Flavour Really As Bad As It Sounds”


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