Food Flavorings – What to Look for on Labels
You might assume that your favorite cereal, which is called “maple oatmeal,” actually contains maple syrup. But, your automatic assumption may be incorrect. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows product manufacturers to use terms like “maple flavored” on packaged foods even if a food does not contain the actual ingredient. Instead, the product must simply contain some type of maple flavoring, the source of which must be clearly stated on the label. Food flavorings can come from a variety sources, both natural and artificial. Therefore, the only way to confirm that the flavor you are tasting is the real thing is to check the list of ingredients on the product label.
Even though the term “natural flavor” might seem preferable to its presumably chemical-laden alternative, “artificial flavor,” the differences between the two are often insignificant. A “natural” flavor comes from a source that is found in nature, but it may be purified and chemically enhanced before being added to a food. An “artificial” flavor, on the other hand, is entirely man-made.
Of course, if you are only concerned about taste, the sources of the flavorings found in your food might not matter that much to you. But, for those who need to be certain that a food is made with a particular ingredient – due to allergies or other reasons – it’s important to carefully review each product ingredient list for specific mentions of any flavoring in question.
Under FDA regulations, companies are required to label food products in a way that does not mislead consumers. The FDA can take action against a manufacturer or seize products that violate its labeling requirements. Ultimately, the goal is to help consumers make informed food choices and allow them to feel confident in knowing exactly what they’re eating. If you’d still prefer to stick to natural flavors, though, the easiest way to do so is to consume a diet that consists largely of whole foods.
If you need assistance in making healthy food choices for yourself or your family, the medical professionals at South Tampa Immediate Care can help. Just give us a call, or stop by our office at your convenience.