Category Archives: natural flavors

So what’s the FoodFacts.com Health Score really all about anyway?

Today FoodFacts.com received an email from a concerned visitor regarding a margarine product on our site. The visitor disagreed with the C- score for the product, saying it really should have been awarded an A. The comment was based on the idea that the Report Card for this margarine pointed out that it contains no fiber. It was pretty easy for that visitor to assume that, in fact, the reason for the C- score was the fact that the product lacks fiber. First, we want to make sure that our community understands that C- is really not a poor Health Score. It’s not the best, but it’s certainly far from being the worst.

We thought it was worth a blog post to address the visitor’s concerns, in case others have the same thoughts when viewing the Health Score and the Report Card for any product. In this particular food category, fiber doesn’t impact the Health Score at all. It’s not figured   in the calculations used to arrive at the rating. What the visitor missed was the inclusion of “Artificial Flavors” in the ingredient list. There are many consumers confused by “Artificial” and “Natural Flavors” and why these are considered controversial items.

“Artificial flavors” is a label that manufacturers use for chemical formulations that they aren’t required to disclose. This means that a product could contain unknown allergens, controversial ingredients and other problematic items, because manufacturers don’t have to tell us what chemicals make up these “artificial flavors.” To demonstrate why we take “artificial flavors” seriously, here is a list of what’s contained in a typical Artificial Strawberry Flavor:

Amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamyl valerate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl acetate, ethyl amyl ketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotropin, hydroxyphenyl-2-butanone (10 percent solution in alcohol), a-ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butyrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, rose, rum ether, g-undecalactone, vanillin, and solvent.

That massive list is all hidden by the phrase “artificial flavors,” and consumers are left none the wiser. “Natural Flavors” are often created with the same ingredients as “artificial flavors,” but extracted or created in a way that allows manufacturers to call them “natural” when they are really anything but.

So while that margarine product lists one controversial ingredient, “Artificial Flavors”, that one phrase is actually hiding a list of others that we’ll never be aware of. When you take that ingredient into consideration and then add it to the fact that margarine is a fat, you can better understand how the C- Health Score was achieved.

FoodFacts.com likes transparency. We like to know what we’re eating and we think our community should as well. The FoodFacts.com Health Score is designed to be a quick read for our community members on the overall nutritional quality of a product. It takes into consideration all applicable attributes for every product in our database. Again, C- isn’t a terrible Score. But when a product contains controversial ingredients (and “Artificial Flavors” is more than one ingredient, even though it doesn’t read that way), it loses points.

For more information on the FoodFacts.com Health Score, click here: http://blog.foodfacts.com/the-facts/our-health-score. And feel free to email us whenever you have a question regarding the information on our site! We’ll always take the time to answer your concerns.

Natural Vanilla Flavoring from Beavers

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We at Foodfacts.com take much time to research and discover the controversial ingredients present in a great portion of our food supply. Labeling in the US and many other countries continues to stump consumers because there is little specific information regarding the exact information of some ingredients. Often, people are mislead most by the term “natural” when it is present on a nutrition label. However, we want you to think twice before believing these manufacturers, and further educate yourself prior to making food choices.
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Natural vanilla flavoring is used as an additive in a variety of products. Ice cream, seltzer waters, yogurt, candy, milk, bread, and many other products commonly use natural vanilla flavoring to mimic the taste of pure vanilla beans. Some may even think that vanilla bean was used to prepare the product, but unfortunately we can never be too sure. In fact, “natural vanilla flavors” is a listing for an additive you may be unaware of, which is Castoreum.
Brown Cow Yogurt at blog.foodfacts.com

“When castoreum occurs in a food, it does not have to be listed by its name. It is considered a “natural flavor” and may be so designated on a food package according to the Code of Federal Regulations.”

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What is Castoreum?

“Castoreum extract… is a natural product prepared by direct hot-alcohol extraction of castoreum, the dried and macerated castor sac scent glands (and their secretions) from the male or female beaver. It has been used extensively in perfumery and has been added to food as a flavor ingredient for at least 80 years. Both the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regard castoreum extract as generally recognized as safe (GRAS).”

Yes, that definition summarizes that castoreum is derived from glands of a male or female beaver. Although many top manufacturers of flavors and fragrances say castoreum is no longer used as a food additive, few products have found they do contain this ingredient.

Check your labels!