All food and beverage (and everything around us) are made up of chemical components, whether they appear in nature or are made in a lab.
This article suggests answers to some questions about natural and artificial flavors used in the food and beverage industry. It will provide you with practical information about chemicals and substances that have been in your diet every day.
What is natural and artificial flavor?
Natural and artificial flavors have the same taste
Natural flavor is a term that many people tend to think of as a health and sustainability matter. In reality, it simply means flavors “from nature.” When applied to the science of flavor, it has a slightly more complicated academic definition.
Here is the official Food and Drug Administration (FDA) definition of natural flavoring:
“Natural flavor is the essential oil, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which includes the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit, vegetable, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or plant material, meat, seafood, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food and beverage is flavoring rather than nutritional.”
Artificial Flavor: Artificial flavorings are made from chemical sources rather than come from natural sources.
The official FDA’s definition of an artificial flavor is any substance that does not meet the natural flavor definition.
How are natural and artificial flavors created?
Natural flavors are developed by separating specific chemical ingredients from natural sources
Natural flavors are developed by separating specific chemical ingredients from natural sources, like an essential oil from one particular fruit. Then, the flavorist will use chemical elements from a single or another natural source to develop the flavor for a specific product.
For artificial flavor, the flavorist will analyze the chemical composition of natural ingredients, such as the vanilla bean, and then create flavor profiles using one or more synthetic ingredients that align with the known chemical composition.
The final flavor is then added to our foods and beverages in approved quantities and tastes.
Are natural and artificial flavors used together?
A product can include both natural and artificial flavorings of the same taste
Many products contain both natural and artificial flavors. A product can include both natural and artificial flavorings of the same taste; for example, yogurt can use both natural and artificial strawberry flavors to provide the flavor consumers expect.
When testing the product and combining both types of flavors, the flavorists have carefully studied the quality and health effects of the final flavor. Therefore, if the product use both natural and artificial flavoring comes out, it means that the product is in control.
What distinguishes a natural and artificial flavor?
The difference between a natural and artificial flavor is the origin of the flavor chemicals
“Natural” has come from natural sources with less effect from lab activities.
On the other hand, artificial flavors are additives designed to mimic the taste of the natural composition. Created with synthetically derived raw materials, an artificial flavor structurally mirrors the natural compound, offering manufacturers a cost-efficient solution to achieve a specific profile.
So, the main difference between a natural and artificial flavor is the origin of the flavor chemicals. Natural flavoring must be derived from plant or animal material. Artificial flavoring is synthesized in the lab environment. The actual chemicals in these two types of flavors may be the same: the chemical structures of the individual molecules may be indistinguishable.
The Food and Drug Administration identifies natural flavors as substances derived from animals or plants, and artificial flavors do not meet that term. An artificial flavor has to be comprised of one of the nearly 700 FDA-allowed chemical ingredients or food additives or some of 2000 other chemical ingredients not directly regulated by FDA but sanctioned by the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association of the United States. Most of these chemical substances exist as natural flavors or can be extracted from them.
From a food manufacturer’s perspective, the difference often comes down to cost and consumer preference. A natural flavor always costs much more than an artificial flavor. Still, food and beverage makers are often willing to extend their budget because some consumers would prefer organic products.
Interestingly, the chemical component that comprises artificial flavors is often simpler components than “natural” flavors. Artificial flavors include fewer chemicals than natural ones, which can be mixtures of several hundred chemicals.
Are natural flavors “better” for us than artificial flavors?
Both types of flavors are responsible for designing profiles that make food and beverages enticing
Structurally, natural and artificial flavors are composed of the same molecules, so they are the same. Therefore, their nutritional value has no difference between natural and artificial flavors, whose functions are for tasting, not nutrient.
Both types of flavors are responsible for designing profiles that make food and beverages enticing. Ultimately, the nutrient income of the product has nothing to do with the flavor additives that are included. So evaluating a product’s nutritional value on whether it does or does not contain natural or artificial flavors is inaccurate.
In reality, we can see many cases that use directly natural flavor from raw material that cause people serious health problems. This phenomenon occurs because raw material may contain some harmful bacteria or ingredients, and if it is not moved out, it will harm the user’s health.
Do natural flavors taste better than artificial flavors?
Flavor has invoked powerful sensory experiences that an individual experience can only appreciate
There is a common misunderstanding that artificial flavors will taste “chemically” and not be true to the natural flavor of a food or beverage. This thought has to move out of people’s minds as flavor science has come a long way in recent years.
Drawe on the combined benefits of artificial and natural flavors, flavorists can now design any flavor profile people can imagine. Without the label telling you what it is, it is unlikely the average consumer would see the differences in what they are drinking.
Flavor has invoked powerful sensory experiences that an individual experience can only appreciate; it’s not something you can see or touch, but it is something you must feel and taste for yourself. The role of flavorist is to recreate those experiences at the accurate molecular level and chemical compound, allowing consumers to enjoy their favorite drinks and taste new flavors that would otherwise be a rarity to experience. Beyond all of the complex regulatory definitions, procedures, and paperwork, that’s what the true magic of flavor development can do for its consumers.
How we perceive the tastes of food and beverage products and other substances is based on senses, including taste, touch, and smell. And natural and artificial flavors are innovative discoveries in the flavor science world.
Many people may have many questions about quality control in creating processes or side effects on health or sustainability. This article provides a clear answer to these worries, so people will find it comfortable to regularly use these ingredients in manufacturing food and beverage.
If you’ve got an idea for a great drink, the beverage development experts at Tan Do can help you bring it to life! Just visit our discussion to find out more!
Tan Do is a global beverage ODM/OEM manufacturer and supplier located in Vietnam. Since 1996, we have built trust and credibility not only throughout Vietnam but also in many parts of the world. Leveraging state-of-the-art technology, we have crafted thousands of products that align with ISO, HACCP, HALAL, FDA, and many other standards.