Myth Buster: Natural Flavors are better than Artificial Flavors. Or are they?
Updated: Aug 21, 2020
Myth: Natural flavors are called "natural" so they must be good.
If there is any myth that deserves to be BUSTED it is this one. Lots of brands advertise so-called "Natural Flavors" as if they are good, and it's just a bunch of trickery, to be honest. It really gets us steamed.
In this post, we'll break down everything you need to know about Natural Flavors, why we think they are gross, and how you can avoid them.
Myth Buster: Natural Flavors
"The loophole, as it were, is that for nonorganic foods, the regulations do not restrict the dozens of other ingredients like preservatives and solvents that can go into a so-called natural flavor." - New York Times
A natural flavor can come from a whole host of things originally found on the earth. Per Business Insider, "‘Natural flavor’ is an umbrella term used to describe a chemical that was originally found in a naturally occurring source". A Natural Flavor, per the FDA, can derive flavor 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, etc..."
So you can have a natural fruit flavor that is actually derived from an animal? Um, yes. And there is no way to know where a flavor listed as "natural" actually comes from.
To break it down. Natural Flavors (like artificial flavors) are made in a lab. Furthermore, nutritionally there is no difference between artificial and natural flavors. Some say they may be in fact indistinguishable. According to foodrevolution.org, there could be as many as 100 chemicals in a single natural flavor. Super natural, right?
Now why are they called Natural Flavors?
Again per the NY Times, "Government regulations define natural flavors<