“Natural Flavors” are now the 4th most common ingredient in our food.

Ingredients on a food label are listed in the order of quantity, from highest to lowest.

natural flavor” is found in more than a quarter of Environmental Working Groups Food Sources database of 80,000 foods. Only salt, water and sugar appear more often on food labels.

What are “Flavors”

Both Artificial and Natural “Flavors” are made in laboratories. Only the people who create these “flavors” know what is in them, and these are closely guarded secrets.

Flavoring mixtures are often made by the same companies that make the fragrance chemicals in perfumes and cosmetics. Indeed these mixtures of chemicals would be labeled “fragrance” if they were found in cleaning products, perfumes, cosmetics or cat litter.

It is a fact when you see the word “flavors” on a food label, we have no clue what chemicals may have been added. “Flavor” chemicals often contain emulsifiers, solvents and preservatives, known as “incidental additives,”. The term “flavors” eliminates requirements the manufacturer disclose the presence of these chemicals on the label or in your food. Complex “flavor” chemicals may include more than 100 individual chemicals. The Non-flavor chemicals components, which have functions other than taste, can represent up 90 percent of the volume. *

“Natural flavors” often include synthetic chemicals propylene glycol (the active ingredient in automotive antifreeze) or BHA, a preservative that used to be added to packaging. You may find products in “BHA Free” labeled containers where the product itself contains BHA.

Why do producers use ‘Flavors’?

  • Financial
    • It’s cheaper to use flavors than procure, store, process and transport the real thing
  • Flavor Manipulation
    • A tasteless base can be made to taste like anything with a tiny bit of flavoring
  • Consistency
    • real food flavor varies with seasons and environment
    • natural flavors are the chemists concept which produces the same flavor every time.   
  • Shelf Life
    • Fresh foods “pop” with flavor but don’t last.
    • Added flavoring never ‘pop’s, but stays consistent for a long shelf life.
  • Behavioral Addiction
    • “flavorings” are designed to give an initial “bloom” that quickly dissipates. More of the product is required with each bite or swallow to get the “bloom” sensation again.

Why do producers use ‘Natural Flavors’?

The only difference between ‘natural flavors’ and ‘artificial flavors’ is that the chemicals from ‘natural flavors’ are derived from plants and animals. Arsenic is “natural”, but you don’t want to eat it. And pardon me for asking a question: “Don’t I want my Lemon Flavor to come from Lemons?” In my world we squeeze or zest lemons, when we want the flavor of a Lemon in our food.

The reason they use “Natural Flavors” is because it’s a misleading term that makes you think the product is natural. Kind of Orwellian.

What should I do?

Ignore the words on the front of the package, they are designed to mislead you. If you don’t want unknown chemicals in your food, vote with your dollar. Simply leave any product that has “flavors”, Artificial or Natural, on the shelf.

It’s getting to the point where all you have to do is look at the brand and not bother with the ingredient label. KraftHeinz.

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