It is not clear, since, on the one hand, it seems that they are evaluated and monitored, and on the other hand, it seems that not so much. The international kitchen food tours advices that it is challenging to know what ingredients are really under the name “aroma” since chemical flavourings can contain more than a hundred different substances and are usually mixed with emulsifiers, solvents, and preservatives, the so-called ‘incidental additives.’
Incidental additives do not have to be disclosed by the manufacturer and can make up 80 to 90% of the mix. Synthetic substances can be harmful, such as propylene glycol, the preservative BHA, an artificial antioxidant suspected of enhancing the action of some carcinogens or ingredients derived from transgenics. Still, we do not know for sure if this can also be extrapolated to European regulations.
Where do food flavourings come from?
Food Flavourings Can Come From:
- Food ingredients: for example, the aroma of paprika extracted from the same paprika, the limonene obtained from the orange or the menthol obtained from the mint.
- Materials of plant, animal, a microbiological origin that is not food themselves: for example, amyl acetate obtained by chemical synthesis, vanillin obtained by chemical synthesis, or the smoke aroma derived from beech wood.
What Other Substances Do Food Flavourings Contain?
Food flavourings usually contain preservatives, emulsifiers, solvents, and other additives, making up a large percentage of their formulation and not reflected on the label.
Types Of Food Flavourings
- Flavouring substances are chemical substances synthesized in the laboratory, where the chemical structure of a natural aroma is emulated.
- Natural flavouring substances: they come from food or natural materials.
- Flavouring preparations are products obtained by physical, enzymatic or microbiological procedures, such as essential oils or plant extracts.
- Aromas obtained by heat treatment: Fragrances acquired by process of different heating ingredients, of which at least one contains nitrogen (amino), and another is a reducing sugar. They can be food or non-food-based materials, such as a meat flavour obtained by heating xylose and cysteine.
- Smoke flavours: condensed smoke treated. This category is legislated differently from the rest of the groups, and its use is prohibited in baby food, cereals, and in many diet foods.
- Aroma precursors: in themselves, they do not have to be flavoured, but rather the aroma is created in the food transformation process, such as the addition of amino acids, reducing sugars.
- Another aroma is not included in the previous sections; for example, through extreme heating of some fats, a barbecue-type aroma is obtained.