How Natural are "Natural Flavors"?

It's amazing how many people think that "natural flavors" are the same thing as actual natural flavors. If you've ever tasted a "naturally flavored" fruit drink and then blended up those same fruits, you'll find that the taste is very, very different. So just how natural are these natural flavors?

Unfortunately for you, not really!

The Unnaturalness of Natural Flavors

When a food product is labeled with "natural flavors", it doesn't mean a thing. The FDA hasn't yet set a standard for what criterion food has to meet in order to be labeled natural. There are certain standards for being named "organic", but pretty much anyone can slap a "natural" label onto their food products and sell it without any control by the FDA.

To make things worse, the term "natural" doesn't mean "healthy". Think about it: cocaine is natural, rubber is natural, and poison is natural. Does that mean you want to eat them? Abso-darn-lutely not! You want to stay as far away from these "natural" things as possible, because they're harmful for your health.

The term "natural" doesn't mean that the food is healthy. To tell the truth, the fact that they have to label their food "natural" means that they are probably not as good as the real deal. Food that is made with "natural flavors" probably once contained something that resembled food, but now is so loaded with chemicals and other artificial ingredients that the only thing "natural" about it is the natural distaste that it instills in you towards processed foods.

Here's the FDA's definition of what the term "natural flavors" really means:

“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.” [1]

As you can see, the term "natural flavors" doesn't really mean natural - it just has to resemble the natural food from which it is supposed to come.

Avoid Natural Flavors

Why are you eating foods that contain these "natural flavors" anyways? It means that you're probably eating processed foods that are loaded with artificial ingredients. You'll find that most of the foods containing "natural flavors" are just going to be unhealthy, so it's probably in your best interest to avoid them.

If you want the natural flavors of food, why not just eat those foods? You want strawberry-flavored yoghurt? Get your own organic yoghurt, and simply add strawberries into your bowl. Want some peach-flavored juice? Simply run a few peaches through a juicer and drink up! You'll find that using real foods is the best way to avoid the "natural flavors" scam.

For those who are still interested in eating foods that contain "natural flavors" it's a good idea to get in touch with the products' manufacturers to find out just what goes into the food. You can email or call the company, and ask them what ingredients are used to make those natural flavors. You'll find that many of the flavors are made from fruit, but the processing that the fruit goes through is so complete that the flavors are nothing like the original taste.

Once you find out the truth about these "natural flavors", you can see if they are still something you want to eat. It may help you to realize that many things that seem natural are really unhealthy and not the best option!

 

[1] http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/cfrsearch.cfm?fr=101.22

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