Natural flavors and natural flavoring can be deceiving! Learn what to look for and how these “natural” additives are actually harming your body!
By: Betsy Stevens NCCPT | Click Here to Find Me on Facebook
Natural flavor and natural flavoring. They are terms that for many will make or break if they purchase a food item. But, is it really that important of a factor to consider when buying our food? I mean, do we really even know what “natural flavor” is? Defining the true essence of this term is a lot more complicated than you might think.
Sure, natural flavor sounds like a healthier choice, but is it? Truthfully, natural flavors aren’t very different from the chemical/artificial flavors that we try to stay away from.
Here are some fun facts about Natural Flavoring to get us started:
-It is the 4th most common ingredient listed on the labels of our foods
-It can contain 50 to 100 different ingredients.
-80% to 90% of what makes up natural flavoring is preservatives.
- The FDA says that natural flavoring is substance “extracted” from plant or animal matter. Yes, matter. What a broad term, huh?
Pretty eye opening isn’t it? And to think, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We still have some more ground to cover so you can fully grasp the concept of natural flavoring and it’s uncomfortable existence.
What are Natural Flavors good for anyway? Well, the main reason it’s added into our foods, is so that it can replace something that was lost through storage, pasteurizing and sometimes processing of that certain food. Orange juice is one of the most common places that you can find natural flavoring. Why? Because it goes through one heck of a journey to get to that gallon it calls home on your grocer’s shelf. Not only that, oranges aren’t in season year round. So, to make sure the juice tastes the same in December as it did in June, natural flavors are added to ensure the product stays exactly the same no matter what season it is.
Another example of natural flavoring is in your strawberry flavored snack bar. It has a “natural strawberry flavor” says the package. It doesn’t actually mean that the strawberries in your bar are mashed up strawberries but more likely a substance that is made up of a chemical that the strawberry possesses that is then enhanced and altered and added into your bar.
So you see, TECHNICALLY it has a natural strawberry flavor in it because at one point way back down the line, a little bit of something came from a strawberry. Now, it’s totally OK to say that bar has a natural strawberry flavor.
It’s all about beating around the bush when it comes to the food industry. It’s a giant mind game that we end up having to play with them because of the lines that can be crossed and the verbiage that is allowed to be used. We just have to be smart about it! Do the research before buying your foods. Does it say “natural flavoring”? Well, look at the ingredients list and break down everything that is in that certain food. At that point, you can decide if it’s something you think that you should be purchasing for consumption.
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