The Truth About Natural Flavors (and Why We Don’t Use Them!)
Anyone who’s ever looked at the ingredients list on a grocery store item has seen the term ‘natural flavors’ before.
Most of us accept this unexplained (almost cryptic) ingredient without giving it too much thought. But have we ever stopped to consider what these ‘natural flavors’ are made from and if they’re really natural?
What Are Natural Flavors?
Chemically, natural flavors don’t differ much from artificial flavors, and the word ‘natural’ can be quite deceptive.
While artificial flavors come from petroleum (and some inedible sources), natural flavors are synthesized from plant and animal sources. Fruits, vegetables, roots, leaves, herbs, and animal products are usually distilled or fermented in some way to extract molecules that go into manufacturing these ‘natural flavors’.
They are termed ‘natural’ only because these flavors are extracted from edible sources. However, when flavorists produce a specific natural flavor, there’s a lot more to it than extracting molecules from a natural source.
What Flavorists Do
A flavorist’s job is to understand, on a molecular level, what combination of compounds is necessary to recreate a specific flavor.
Let’s say the flavor of watermelon is really popular right now, and a distillery would like to make a watermelon-flavored vodka. Using actual watermelons would be too expensive and the supply of fruit would have to be on a massive scale.
Instead, the flavorists would order fresh watermelons from a supplier and taste them. They would then identify this taste using a special set of words to help them narrow down on the kind of flavor they’re trying to recreate.
With the right definition, the research and development team will try and find the molecular fingerprint of this flavor. They will then use the compounds available in the lab to recreate this ‘natural flavor’.
Once they’ve found the right combination of molecules and figured out the formula, this flavor will be manufactured on a large scale so the company can use it in their new vodka.
Ps- Google “castoreum” to see how some natural flavors are derifitves of BEAVER BUTT. Seriously, it’s true… you can’t make this stuff up. We question who was the person to figure out beaver butt makes a good natural flavor… !!!!
Are Natural Flavors Good For Us?
On a nutritional level, there is almost no difference between artificial and natural flavors as the flavor molecules themselves contain no nutrition. Natural flavor sources range from an African bark used to create vanilla flavoring, to leaves that mimic and enhance the taste of watermelon.
Once the flavor molecule has been isolated, it is diluted with water, glycerin, or ethanol. Different compounds are then added to this diluted solution to produce a distinct blend which is then produced by the company on a massive scale.
Initially, natural flavors may be derived from edible or ‘natural’ substances. However, these substances themselves may be questionable and can be ingredients that cause allergies in certain parts of the population.
Sometimes, in the case of vegetarian and vegan products, the natural flavors may be sourced from animal products but labelled as ‘natural flavors’ by manufacturers.
And while these natural flavors may start their journey from a natural source, they are mixed with chemical solvents and preservatives before being added to food.
In fact, companies can label an ingredient as ‘natural flavors’ as long as 80% of that ingredient is derived from a natural source. The other 20% could be anything and often includes chemicals and additives that are severely detrimental to our health in the long run.
We Don’t Use Natural Flavors, Earth Provides the BEST Flavors
We completely avoid natural flavors in all of our products, ensuring that they’re truly natural and safe for consumption.
As mentioned earlier, even vegan foods may contain natural flavors derived from animals. Being a provider of plant-based products, we want to ensure that no chemicals or animal derivatives find their way into your body through our organic protein powders!
We also avoid using natural flavors as we are painfully aware of the fact that these flavors could be sourced from potential allergens, and the chemicals that go into these products can severely impact your health in the long run.
And we never want to compromise on health and safety by using unnatural and potentially harmful ingredients.
The ‘real’ natural flavor comes from the Earth itself and all the fruits, veggies, herbs, and spices she has to offer. And at Planet Protein, we make use of the Earth’s bounty to the fullest.
This way we can ensure that you’re getting what Mother Nature intended us to have, helping you lead a healthier, happier, and toxin-free life.