Why Natural Flavouring Isn’t as “Natural” as You’d Think
Natural flavours are the 4th most common ingredient on food labels today. In fact, the only ingredients you’ll see more often are salt, water, and sugar. Natural flavouring is ambiguously titled by design and offers a false sense of security to consumers scanning ingredient labels. They are also difficult to avoid as they have become much more prevalent on store shelves recently.
The majority of tea products on the market today use “natural flavouring” to mask the lack of quality and freshness in their blends. Using “natural” flavours helps them bring costs down by adding chemical junk into their blends. These “natural flavours" are far from it, and below we have 4 reasons why you should start avoiding them whenever possible.
1. “Natural” flavours are 90% chemical junk.
You read that correctly - 80 to 90% of the ingredients that make up natural flavours contain chemical solvents and preservatives. These include the cancer-causing chemical BHA, propylene glycol (also found in antifreeze), and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
2. “Natural” flavours are basically perfume for your mouth.
Cleaning products, perfumes, and cosmetics contain a combination of chemicals labelled “fragrances”. In processed foods, this chemical mixture is called a “flavour.” Because smell comprises 80 to 90 percent of the sense of taste, fragrances and flavours are often alarmingly similar in chemical composition and are used to fill in the blanks left behind by subpar ingredients and shortcuts.
3. "Natural" flavours are designed by “Big Food” to be addictive.
There are 4 huge corporations that control the $24 billion dollar market for both flavours and fragrances: Givaudan, Firmenich, IFF and Symrise. In a fascinating 2011 interview that aired on 60 Minutes, scientists from Givaudan, one of the aforementioned power players in the food flavouring world, admitted their number one goal when creating flavours was to make them addictive.
4. The FDA lets flavour companies call the shots.
Incredibly, the FDA frequently allows food companies to develop their own food additives without providing oversight or safety reviews of their chemical concentrations. These companies know how to play the game: they hire expensive lawyers to ensure they’ve followed the archaic FDA processes when developing their flavours, and generally the FDA leaves them alone.
As you can tell this is a topic that gets us pretty fired up. Below we’ve put together a list of key takeaways to consider when it comes to natural flavourings:
- “Natural flavour” is really a catch-all term that describes flavour derived from almost any type of plant or animal, regardless of how processed that extract may be. Worse, monosodium glutamate (MSG), aspartame and a number of other flavour enhancers are sometimes hidden under this category. MSG and aspartame are neurotoxins and have been linked to a number of health conditions including headaches, muscle cramps, and a number of more serious neurological disorders.
- Experts say that ultimately, natural and artificial flavours are not that different. While chemists make natural flavours by extracting chemicals from natural ingredients, artificial flavours are made by creating the same chemicals synthetically.
- The reason companies bother to use natural flavours rather than artificial flavours is simple: marketing value.
- Consumers may believe products with natural flavours are healthier, though they're nutritionally no different from those with artificial flavours.
- Natural flavours may have more detrimental environmental consequences than artificial flavours because natural flavours, while not offering nutritional benefits still come from natural resources, they can involve more forest clear-cutting and carbon emissions from transport than flavours created artificially in the lab.
At the end of the day, eating fresh foods from nature and packaged foods with ingredients that you recognize is the only way to avoid “natural” flavours. We’ve harnessed this passion for real botanical blends and quality ingredients when creating our Adaptogenic Super Tea. We have scoured the earth for the highest quality and sustainably sourced ingredients we could find, to ensure an uncontaminated beverage that is 100% clean. A beverage that tastes as nature intended - all plants, nothing else.