There is much confusion and misconception regarding natural vs artificial flavour.
Artificial flavours come from anything that is inedible (i.e petroleum), that is processed to create chemicals of flavorings.
Natural flavours are created from anything that can be eaten (i.e animals and vegetables), even if those edible things are processed in the lab to create flavourings.
Natural vs Artificial flavour?
Perhaps the world’s most common flavouring product is Vanillin. What is vanillin? Is Vanillin a natural or artificial flavour) The answer is that Vanillin is an example of a natural flavour that is man-made!
How is Vanillin made?
The Vanillin molecule is the main flavour component of the Vanilla bean.
The first commercially available Vanillin was synthesised of the more readily available natural compound Eugenol. Today, artificial vanillin is made from Lignin, a constituent of wood which is a byproduct of the paper industry.
The way this is done is to separate all the other components from the vanillin. This is usually done by using alcohol and/or heating.
So what is Lignin?
Lignin is a collective name for a series of polymeric aromatic compounds that are part of plant cell walls. Lignin is one of the most common organic compounds in nature.
Benzaldehyde vs Bitter Almond
Benzaldehyde is an example of a compound which “natural” status is much debated.
But since its “natural” counterpart, Bitter Almond, has been found to cause cancer, Benzaldehyde has been widely accepted as a preferable substitute.
Benzaldehyde is an organic compound that was first extracted in France, in 1803, by a pharmacist named Martès.
He focused on elucidating the nature of amygdalin, the poisonous material that contain cyanide, found in bitter almonds, the fruit of the Almond tree (Prunus dulcis).
There are many methods to make Benzaldehyde, the most common way is to use Cinnamaldehyde obtained from oil of the Cassia tree, growing in South-East Asia.
Aromas occur naturally in all foods
Flavors / flavorings occur naturally in all foods. In the kitchen, we produce aromas ourselves daily without thinking about it. There are, for example, about 50 aroma components in raw potatoes, while in a boiled there are 3 times more. When preparing / cooking e.g. heat treatment of food changes taste and smell. This change can be compensated by adding flavors. Aromas can also be used to give a changed smell and taste to existing products. Read more
Use of aromas
In industrial food production, it is not possible to season in the same way as you do when cooking at home. The production volumes are completely different, but the cooking methods are still similar to how to make privately. Aromas can be considered as a further development of traditional spices. An example is the monks’ production of alcoholic extracts of spices for use in liqueurs. Aromas are used like other flavoring ingredients to give variety to the food. The use of aromas is generally less than of additives such as dyes, stabilizers or preservatives. In the small quantities used, they also have no technical impact on the food.
The reason for the use of flavor is that there are a number of factors to take into account in the industry that do not have the same significance in the private household. These considerations are e.g. requirements for hygiene / microbiology, resource utilization, seasonal variation, raw material supply, even taste over time, cost of handling, working environment, etc. In many cases, it is a prerequisite that you use aromas instead of original materials to be able to produce food at reasonable costs.
Questions about aromas
Frequently asked questions with answers can be found under Questions & Answers
All aromas contained in food products are present in small amounts and must be risk-free to consume when eating. Only flavorings that meet the requirements of the legislation, where safety for consumers is also central, may be used in food. All flavoring substances used have undergone or are undergoing a safety assessment by authorities or international bodies and can be considered safe. For more information, read Security
Raw materials that may be used for the production of flavorings are defined in the legislation. Below, the text of 2008/1334 / EC The Aroma Regulation has been used to describe that in many cases the raw materials are the same as those used for food. Food can also be used as a starting material in the production of aromas.
Flavorings include natural flavoring substances and flavoring substances obtained by chemical synthesis or isolated by physical and / or chemical processes. Flavorings are defined chemical substances.
Natural flavoring agent: a flavoring agent produced by appropriate physical, enzymatic or microbiological processes from materials of plant, animal or microbiological origin, either in the raw state or after processing into food.
Aroma preparation is a product that is not a flavoring substance and is a material of vegetable, animal or microbiological origin that has been produced by suitable physical, enzymatic or microbiological processes. The materials are either raw or processed into food. Flavor preparations prepared from foodstuffs do not need to undergo any evaluation or approval procedure in order to be used in and on foodstuffs as foodstuffs must be safe to consume.
2008/1334 / EC The Aroma Regulation defines foods as processed, partially processed or unprocessed substances or products that are intended to or can reasonably be expected to be ingested by humans. Similarly, heat reaction flavorings produced from foods under specified conditions do not need to undergo any evaluation or approval process for use in and on foods, except when there is doubt about their safety.
Flavors are usually prepared by mixing flavoring agents and / or flavoring preparations. These are prepared from food raw materials or products through suitable approved processes, which are similar to those used in households. Flavorings can be extracted from natural materials and also produced industrially. Natural flavorings are substances that are naturally occurring and that have been found in nature. They must also by definition also be made from natural goods e.g. fruit, vegetables etc. Flavorings are volatile components and an aroma can contain many of these substances.