“Natural” Flavors

These days, when an increasing number of people are reading ingredient labels and rejecting foods with artificial ingredients, manufacturers have found a new way to deceive the public—they add undesirable ingredients under the category “natural flavor.” One would think that natural flavors are such things as vanilla extract and flavors derived from wholesome foods. Unfortunately, natural flavors include such ingredients as monosodium glutamate, perfumes, and items to mask undesirable odors in foods by deadening taste buds.

The designation natural flavor is supposedly a way of keeping some natural ingredients secret to prevent competitors from copying their recipes. More likely, it is a way of permitting manufacturers to add objectionable ingredients and still put “All-Natural” on the label.

Title 21, Section 101, part 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations defines natural flavorings & flavors as, “the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”

Castoreum is “used extensively in perfumery and has been added to food as a flavor ingredient for at least 80 years.” “Castoreum is a bitter, orange-brown, odoriferous, oily secretion, found in two sacs between the anus and the external genitals of beavers. The discharge of the castor sac is combined with the beaver's urine, and used during scent marking of territory. Both male and female beavers possess a pair of castor sacs and a pair of anal glands located in two cavities under the skin between the pelvis and the base of the tail. Castoreum is a product of the trapping industry. When beavers are skinned for their fur, these glands are taken out, and are sold after being smoked or sun-dried to prevent putrefaction.…”

“Castoreum is used in ‘high class’ perfumery for ‘refined leathery nuances.’ It is also reportedly used in some incense, and to contribute to the flavor and odor of cigarettes. In food, castoreum is used to flavor candies, drinks, and desserts such as puddings.”*

Here is an intersting link: http://voices.yahoo.com/artificial-natural-flavorings-avoid-them-all-326680.html

Over the past year, I have bought food products that had a very disagreeable perfume odor such as that in bathroom cleaners or an acrid, unpleasant taste. Then I looked more carefully at the ingredients and found that I had inadvertently missed the listing of natural flavor. In each case, I have phoned or written the manufacturer to voice my disapproval of such a deceitful practice. If more of us did so, perhaps manufacturers would be less inclined to fool the public.


The above article is from Robert Chuckrow, The Intelligent Dieter’s Guide, Rising Mist Publications, Briarcliff Manor, NY, 1997, pp. 24–25 and 54–55.

©Copyright 1997 & 2013 by Robert Chuckrow

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