The Herb Stop Blog
What is a Natural Flavoring? Breaking Down Natural vs. Artificial Flavors
When reading through the ingredients in a product or food, you will likely come across natural flavors as a listed ingredient. Many of us hear the term “natural flavor” and are immediately interested but skeptical.
Are natural flavors really natural, or are they artificial ingredients packaged in a new way?
In today’s piece on natural flavors, we’ll go over everything you need to know about what a natural flavor is, how it is created, the benefits of using natural flavors, and how Herb Stop uses natural flavors to enhance certain products.
What is a Natural Flavoring?
Per the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, a natural flavor or natural flavoring contains flavoring constituents that are “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.”
These flavor constituents may include essential oils, essences, distillates, or other products created via heating, roasting, or enzymolysis. Enzymolysis is the process of biochemical decomposition caused by an enzyme. An example of enzymolysis includes fermentation, which makes many wonderful foods and drinks, including sourdough bread, apple cider vinegar, kombucha, miso, and kimchi.
Organic Natural Flavors
Organic natural flavors have even stricter regulations they must uphold, which is why we specifically use organic natural flavors in our products.
Organic natural flavors must be created without synthetic carriers, solvents, or artificial preservatives. Specifically, organic natural flavors cannot include propylene glycol, polyglycerol esters of fatty acids, mono- and di-glycerides, benzoic acid, polysorbate 80, medium-chain triglycerides, BHT, BHA, triacetin.
If you’re concerned about synthetic additives, we recommend looking for organic natural flavors in the products you purchase.
Natural Flavors vs. Artificial Flavors
Unlike natural flavors, artificial flavors are created from man-made, manufactured chemicals which give the food or product its aroma or flavor. In contrast, natural flavors are derived from natural ingredients, such as plant or animal sources.
A common concern we hear about natural flavors is that the term is unregulated or misleading in some way. However, this is not the case.
Unlike the term “natural,” which has no formal legal definition according to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, natural flavors have legally binding regulations for their use. Natural flavors are even the fourth most common food ingredient found on food labels throughout the United States.
Some people also claim that natural flavors and artificial flavors are essentially the same after the original ingredients have been processed. In some ways, the molecules in the two may be similar after they are processed. However, the process and raw ingredients used to create the product are widely different, and many people are more comfortable consuming or using products made with natural and organic ingredients rather than synthetic chemicals.
Benefits of Using Natural Flavors
Natural flavors have many benefits. They are highly concentrated, stable even in high heat, and clear, so they don’t discolor foods, beverages, and products they are added to.
Many restaurants, home chefs, bakers, caterers, brewers, and product manufacturers use natural flavors and extract to enhance their creations’ flavors and aromas, creating an even more delicious and exciting product in the process.
Natural flavors are used in a surprising number of products we often don’t think about, such as bubbly water, plant-based meats, and tea. They are also commonly used in medicinal products and supplements, which are often painfully bitter without the help of natural flavorings.
Another widespread use of natural flavors is in vegan and vegetarian products. For example, our Beef-Less Flavored Broth spice contains Autolyzed Yeast Extract, a natural flavor that gives this 100% natural and vegan product a beefy taste without using meat.
For individuals with specific food allergies, sensitivities, or dietary preferences, natural flavors can help them recreate the taste of a favorite food without actually using the irritating ingredient.
Another great example is our Candy Bar Rooibos Tea, which contains natural almond, caramel, creme, and vanilla flavor. This tea is 100% natural, vegan, caffeine-free, and has no artificial flavors or dyes. However, the natural flavors in it allow you to still enjoy the sweet, sensuous taste of caramel, vanilla, and almond, without added sugar, dairy, or caffeine!
Herb Stop’s Take on Natural Flavors
We take ingredients very seriously when it comes to our products, which is why we only use organic natural flavors. Organic natural flavors are more regulated than natural flavors and cannot contain or be created with synthetic carriers, solvents, or artificial preservatives.
We purchase our organic natural flavors from a company that has been creating natural and organic products for over 35 years. Their organic products only come from pure sources and are USDA-certified. Additionally, synthetics, chemicals, and toxins are never used during production.
A common concern among many consumers is not knowing precisely what is included in a natural flavor, especially if they suffer from an allergy or sensitivity to certain ingredients. To alleviate this concern, our company shares that their organic natural flavor extracts and flavoring extracts are Kosher, vegan, gluten-free, and food-grade quality.
In addition to this, our flavors are custom-made in a facility in Southern California. There is no middle man involved during the process.
We hope today’s piece cleared up any concerns you may have about natural flavors and clarified why we choose to use organic natural flavors over natural flavors. Our flavors are made from the best organic and natural ingredients available, which is why we support the brand and use it in our own natural and high-quality products.
We believe in only the best quality and natural ingredients in our products and strive to support companies with the same high standards!
Natalie & Leilah