No artificial colours/ flavours Vs Natural colour flavour
The addition of colours to food and beverages has been common practice for many centuries. Colours were generally added to serve as a visual cue for quality, to induce the perception of flavour and to meet consumer expectations.
Colours in food and beverages also serves a number of technological purposes. These include: the offset of colour loss caused by processing conditions such as temperature, time and heat enhancement of colours already present in the food provision of batch to batch uniformity thereby preserving the food’s identification; and to protect flavours and vitamins that may be sensitive to sunlight during storage.
A colour is deemed natural if its origin is vegetal, microbiological, animal or mineral. Artificial colours were created in labs by chemists.
Consumers have come to expect certain foods to be a specific colour. If a product doesn’t match the standard they expect, consumers generally perceive that product as being of poor quality or no longer fresh. Since consumers base so much of their food choice off of a colour, this is the main reason the food industry utilises colourants to enhance a product’s aesthetics. Another reason that a colour is added to foods is for product novelty and festivities. The colours most in question are Tartrazine (Yellow, E102), Allura Red (Red, E129), Cochineal Red (Red, E124), Quinoline Yellow (Yellow, E104), Sunset Yellow (Orange, E110) and Carmoisine (Maroon, E122).
Research has also associated food dyes with problems in children including allergies, hyperactivity, learning impairment, irritability and aggressiveness.
Unless a product says no artificial colours or flavours and if the product is coloured you can guarantee they use synthetic colourants to dye their product. Natural colours can still use numbers like 160a (Carotene) so it’s good to have an app like chemical maze to punch in these numbers to see what they mean.
FSANZ have a complete list of food additives and additive labelling on their website.
Ideally colours should be avoided, for our family they are absolutely a sometimes food as I understand at parties and outings they are hard to avoid. It’s not something you want your children or yourselves having everyday.
Artificial flavours are used to make food taste like it is real and it can be designed to be addictive. It can make food taste like something without actually adding that particular ingredients like apple flavour without using any apple. It can contain up to 100 ingredients without a company needing to list them on a label. Things like preservatives, emulsifiers, additives and they are typically made in a lab. Artificial flavours are just that- artificial- they do not come from plants or animals and are made using man made substances like petroleum, coal and tar.
Natural flavours are also used to make food taste like it is real and it can be designed to be addictive. It can also make food taste like something without actually adding that particular ingredients like apple flavour without using any apple. It can contain up to 100 ingredients without a company needing to list them on a label. Things like preservatives, emulsifiers, additives and they are typically made in a lab. The one main differences between natural and artificial flavours is that natural flavours are derived from plants and animals like vanillin from beavers anal glads, barks, flowers, leaves etc
Natural flavours are the fourth most common food ingredient listed on food labels. Fourth! And most of us don’t even know what it is. Given this prevalence, you’d probably expect more transparency and regulations around these flavours so as consumers, we can decide whether we want to eat that food or not. And yet there isn’t. The term natural flavour(s) or artificial flavour(s) are not legislated or legally regulated under Australia and NZ legislation meaning they can be used interchangeably.
In organic food the natural flavour MUST be produced without synthetic solvents, carriers or artificial preservatives.
Many natural flavours can be based in Natural Ethyl Alcohol. They typically formulate the flavours to be water soluble.
Even when a packet explains a product is natural, vegetarian, vegan, organic, there is no guarantee an animal/animal part wasn’t used in the production of the natural flavour.
Flavours are so abundant because processing food destroys all previous flavours (not to mention nutrients) of the original food, leaving a cheap, flavourless product with an extended shelf life. The solution? Adding flavours, whether they are fully synthetic – artificial or natural.
In simple terms, natural flavours are heavily processed, and can contain many chemical additives. As such, natural flavours aren’t all that different to artificial flavours in terms of chemical composition and subsequent effects on our health.
Both types of flavors are made in the lab by scientists called “flavorists,” who blend various chemicals together.
There is little substantive difference in the chemical compositions of natural and artificial flavourings.
So what is better? Artificial flavorings are simpler in composition and potentially safer because only safety-tested components are utilised.
Besides health effects, natural flavours also may have more negative environmental impacts than artificial flavours.
An example of massoia lactone, which is used for a creamy, coconut, spicy flavour. Harvesting it from the massoia tree in Malaysia kills the tree because harvesters have to remove the bark. In other cases collecting natural flavours involves clear cutting and carbon emissions, which doesn’t happen when flavours are created in the lab.
In most cases, natural flavors cost more than artificial flavours. Food makers are often willing to pay because they know that some consumers prefer ‘natural’ flavours” because to them it sounds better for you.