Lack of transparency in ‘Natural Flavor’ labeling
"Natural flavors" is a term that is often used on food labels to describe the source of the flavor in a product. However, this term can be misleading, as it does not necessarily mean that the flavor comes from a natural source. In fact, natural flavors can be derived from a wide range of sources, including plants, animals, and even synthetic chemicals.
A must watch video to understand the complexity of the industry is this CBS 60 Minutes clip where the Lead Flavorist from Givaudan (largest flavor company in the world) is interviewed and describes the purpose of the company as creating addiction. Link to video.
One reason for the lack of transparency in natural flavors is that companies are not required to disclose the specific ingredients that make up the flavor. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines natural 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."
Currently there are a handful of companies that are purposefully making products that avoid additives like flavors, fragrances or preservatives. Retailers like Whole Foods are following suit by banning ingredients that they feel are not aligned with their wellness focused customers. Here at Volley, Founders Camila and Chris founded the brand after not coming across any products that delivered a clean drinking experience. Volley was created with just organic juice (never from concentrate), sparkling water, and 100% agave tequila. As a result, nutritionists and dietitians that preach a balanced lifestyle are getting onboard with the brand and sales are surging within Whole Foods nationwide. Try the brand out here with THESERVE15 to save 15%.
This broad definition of a 'natural flavor' allows companies to keep the specific ingredients of their natural flavors a secret. For example, a natural flavor could be made from a blend of various plant and synthetic chemicals, but the label would only need to state that it is a "natural flavor." This lack of transparency makes it difficult for consumers to know exactly what they are consuming and whether or not the product contains ingredients that they may be allergic to or wish to avoid for other reasons.
Another reason for the lack of transparency in natural flavors is that companies may wish to protect their proprietary recipes. Many natural flavors are complex mixtures of various ingredients, and companies may view the specific ingredients and proportions as trade secrets. As a result, they may be reluctant to disclose this information to the public.
Overall, the lack of transparency in natural flavors can be a concern for consumers who are interested in knowing exactly what is in the food they are eating. While natural flavors can be derived from a wide range of sources, including plants and animals, the specific ingredients that make up these flavors are often kept secret. This lack of transparency can make it difficult for consumers to know exactly what they are consuming and whether or not the product contains ingredients that they may wish to avoid.
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To learn more about flavors take a look at these two resources: