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When I share about ingredients on social media I often get comments like "aren't natural flavors better?" or "What about natural flavors, are those good?". Let's talk about them a little here.
The average American consumes 25 pounds of artificial flavors each year, which can have serious consequences on our health and environment. Natural flavors are a great alternative to artificial flavors but they still have their drawbacks. Natural flavors, while seemingly “natural”, are actually produced through chemical processes and may contain compounds that can be dangerous to our health.
One of the main concerns about natural flavors is that there is very little regulation as to what chemicals can be used in these products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require companies that produce natural flavors to list any of the chemicals used in their production. This means that carbon dioxide and other additives can be used without any warning or indication that they are present. In addition, synthetic flavors often contain hydrolyzed proteins, which are derived from slaughterhouse waste, fish, or other animals. These proteins can be loaded with contaminants, such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, or heavy metals.
The production of natural flavors can also have a serious environmental impact. The manufacturing process releases emissions containing polluting organic compounds and metals into the air. These pollutants have been linked to health problems like respiratory illnesses, increased risk of asthma, and cancer. Furthermore, natural flavors often contain ingredients sourced from endangered species, such as vanilla beans, which can lead to further damage to already fragile ecosystems.
Finally, natural flavors can contain a range of unrecognizable and unidentifiable ingredients. Since they don’t have to be labeled, there is no way to know what may be in the natural flavor product unless it contains an allergen that is required by law to be listed.
For these reasons, it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers of natural flavors and opt for foods and beverages with fewer flavors and additives.
If you want to learn more about Natural and Artificial Flavors and other components of this ingredient or, how to recognize tricky marketing so that you can avoid this ingredient along with others then you will want to join my March Challenge!
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Step 1 in your journey to become a more informed eater is to learn how to read food labels and understand the ingredients that are used to make the items you choose to bring into your home. Start learning to read labels to get started on your journey now!