Chemicals- Smell, Taste, Structure
There are Chemicals in everything we eat. All foods are made up of chemicals, whether they occur in nature or are made in a lab. That means everything we smell or taste is a response to chemicals.
For example, the characteristic smell of cloves, comes from one chemical called eugenol. Cinnamon, which is just the dried inner-bark of specific trees, gets its aroma and flavor from the compound cinnamic aldehyde. In nature, vanillin comes from an orchid. The process of extracting this pure, natural chemical is extremely lengthy and expensive. The compound vanillin is responsible for the flavor and smell of vanilla. So scientists found a way to make a synthetic version of vanilla in a lab.
Both artificial and natural flavors contain chemicals
If both artificial and natural flavors contain chemicals, what’s the difference? The distinction between natural and artificial flavors is the source of chemicals. Natural flavors are created from anything that can be eaten.
According to the FDA, “Natural flavor is the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived 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, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”
Artificial flavors come from anything that is inedible. For example, from petroleum that is processed to create chemicals of flavorings. For the FDA, the definition of an artificial flavor is any substance that does not meet the definition of a natural flavor
Artificial vs. Natural
Most times a chemical flavoring can be made from either natural or artificial sources — the resulting molecule is the same, but the route to making is different. So which are “safer” or “better” for you, artificial or natural flavors? The answer is probably not what you think.
Since the chemicals for natural flavors are derived from organic sources, they can carry a higher risk of contamination. It’s not that it is slowing down interest in natural flavors, it’s just the opposite. Demand for natural flavors in expected to continue to grow.
So if the demand for natural flavors is increasing, why use artificial flavors at all? Synthetic chemicals that make up artificial flavors generally cost less to produce than finding and extracting the chemicals from natural sources.
Contact our flavor chemists to get started with your flavor today.