This week we’re back with another edition of the Trash Panda Scoop (check out our past article on Gum Additives). Trash Panda is all about education and transparency, so we think it’s important to delve into some of the flagged ingredients commonly found in the products we buy.
Natural flavors are found often in any product from flavored beverages, condiments, desserts, and beyond, so we want to explain what they are and why we flag them. The FDA defines natural flavors as “those that derive their aroma or flavor chemicals from plant or animal sources… that are distilled… or otherwise manipulated in a lab” (Rabin, 2019). However, because these ingredients do not adhere to restrictive regulations, there can be a wide variety of other preservatives, additives, or solvents that make natural flavors strikingly similar to artificial flavors.
In other words, “while food processors must list all of the ingredients on a food label, flavor manufacturers do not have to disclose their ingredients” (Rabin, 2019).
Potential Negative Effects
As a result, it is extremely difficult to identify what potentially harmful ingredients natural flavors may consist of, especially for people with food allergies.
Additionally, these flavors are created to make food more palatable, and may be be addicting, leading consumers to eat more of the processed foods that contain them without feeling full.
The term natural flavors alone is misleading, and as a whole these flavors are widely misunderstood, by design. Natural flavors have been found to be the fourth most common food ingredient listed on food labels, so having a strong understanding of what they are is extremely important (Goodman, 2017).
Although it may not be necessary to avoid natural flavors in your diet entirely, it’s good to be aware of how many products you’re consuming that contain them, and reflect on how you feel when eating them.
Natural Flavors are always flagged in the Trash Panda app, making it clear when they are included in any product so you can make better choices about the products you choose to consume. Download the app for free below to make them easier to spot.