The Truth About 'Natural Flavours'


What is one term you won't find in our ingredient list? Natural Flavour.

The thing is, most of us don't even know what that term means, and this sneaky little ingredient can be found on most of our food labels including:

  • Herbal Tea
  • Protein Powder
  • Greens Powder
  • Protein Bars
  • Flavoured Milks
  • Sauces 
  • Chocolate

So what is it exactly? 

Well, the Federal Food and Drug Administration defines a natural flavor as “the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavouring rather than nutritional.”

These flavour mixtures often include amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, ethyl butyrate, various aliphatic acid ester, ethyl acetate, ethyl valerate, ethyl isovalerate, ethyl pelargonate, vanillin, lemon essential oil, citral, citronellal, rose absolute, geraninol, orange essential oil, geranium essential oil, aldehyde C10, ethyl heptanoate, acetaldehyde, aldehydes C14 and C16, styralyl acetate, dimethyl benzyl carbinyl acetate, benzyl formate, phenyl ethyl isobutyrate, cinnamyl isovalerate, anise essential oil, esters of colophony and benzaldehyde and may contain terpenyl isovalerate, isopropyl isovalerate, citronellyl isovalerate, geranyl isovalerate, benzyl isovalerate, cinnamyl formate, isopropyl valerate, butyl valerate, methyl allyl butyrate and potentially the synthetic ingredients cyclohexyl acetate, allyl butyrate, allyl cyclohexylvalerate, allyl isovalerate and cyclohexyl butyrate.

Contrary to popular belief, natural flavourings aren't really natural at all. According to the EWG the only difference between 'natural' and 'artificial' flavouring is the origin of flavour chemical. Natural flavourings are derived from either plant or animal materials and artificial flavours are made in a lab. That said, a natural flavouring is still made up of a solvent, an emulsifier and a preservative. The chemical make up could still be exactly the same as those used in the artificial flavours. In fact, artificial flavours typically contain fewer chemicals than natural ones, which can be mixtures of several hundred chemicals.

So to be clear, when you see the word 'flavour' on a food label, you have no idea which chemicals, solvents or preservatives have been added, and the manufacturer is under NO obligation to share these important details with you. I say, you have the right to know what is in your food.

Can't we just let food taste like food?

Here at Wildflower Superfoods, we don't use any type of flavour enhancement, including the not so natural 'natural flavourings' because our health is important and we think food is best consumed just at nature intended it to be.