Natural and artificial flavors are something we commonly see in our processed foods. Where do these natural and artificial flavors come from? Many of them are made a company called Givaudan. Givaudan is a Swiss company that employes about 9000 workers. Their job is to take flavors, found in mother nature, and recreate them in a laboratory… we are talking about chemicals…and lots of them.
The goal is to add flavors to food that have such intense, but short lasting, flavor that leaves you needing more. The chemical food scientist at Givaudan call themselves flavorist. These flavorist can be seen here, in a 15 minute video by 60 Minutes, proudly saying they want to create an addiction with the chemicals that they use in our food, so that we continue to want to eat. They then deny that they have any responsibility for America’s obesity problem. Is Givaudan the reason that we can’t eat just one potato chip?
Former FDA commissioner, Dr. David A. Kessler, says that flavorist are the hired guns of food companies. They create a product that encourages people to overeat.
The words, “natural flavors” on a package label can be alluring for some people to think they are getting something healthy. However, natural simply means not made from chemicals. It doesn’t say how the natural flavors are created. Many times these natural ingredients have been heated to high temperatures to achieve their desired taste. Natural flavor labeling doesn’t require the natural flavor, that is used, to have anything to do with the flavor it is trying to mimic. For example, natural strawberry flavor can come from the castor sacs from the anus of a beaver. ….doesn’t that sound appealing? However, I will give credit where credit is due, beavers butt is all natural.
The FDA recognizes castoreum as, ” generally recognized as safe” (GRAS). Castoreum is the product that is obtained from the castor sacs around the beaver’s backside. Because the FDA recognizes castoreum as GRAS, there is no limit its use. It seems like the easier way to get natural strawberry flavor is from…well…strawberries, but apparently it is more costly than castoreum.
There are five other natural flavors: grape, caramel, butter, raspberry, and rum are made from the anus of a Civet cat. The scrapings of the Civet cat’s anus are also recognized by the FDA as GRAS.
What you can do to make a difference:
- Do not purchase foods that have artificial and natural flavors listed on the labels.
- Contact (phone, email, social media) companies and ask them to make their products without artificial flavors, and label where their natural flavors come from.
- Eat whole organic foods whenever possible.
Sources: A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives, FDA, 60 Minutes