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So many of the ones you can find in the store aren't very transparent about ingredients. I can find easy ones like pure Vanilla and Almond, but if I want something like Watermelon, Coconut, Cotton Candy, or Root Beer then its hard for me to tell. They tend to list the ingredients as "natural and artificial flavors". I was looking at some LorAnna in the store, so many flavors but I had no idea if it had something unsavory in it. I haven't had much luck online either. Do you know of any brands that are reasonable priced and safe?
Friday, May 03 2013, 03:58 PM
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Thursday, May 16 2013, 02:59 PM - #Permalink
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Unfortunately, If a flavoring extract company is not transparent about how they list the information on the bottle, as in listing natural flavors or artificial flavors in the ingredients list, there's just no telling what they have in there.

In the US and in many other countries, companies are legally able to use the term natural flavors as a wildcard term where they stuff all the chemical flavoring compounds they don't want you to know about. You may already know that in the US at least, there's no legal definition of what constitutes the word natural. So if there was radioactive waste in your store bought granola it could still be labeled 100% natural :D

Vegan butter companies often go this route with their products, often using a chemical called diacetyl which is the actual chemical that gives natural butter most of its flavor. Vanilla flavoring (not to be confused with extract) uses vanillin which is derived from cellulose from wood pulp. This is probably ok to consume because vanillin is the primary flavor compound in real vanilla extracts but who really knows for sure? What chemicals are being used in the process? Is any of it getting in the food? It's really hard to tell.

I had a baking company several years ago and quickly learned that instead of buying a popular brand of vegan butter, I could use canola oil and purchase the same diacetyl butter flavoring they used and cut my costs. Of course, I listed natural flavors on my ingredients list. What's fascinating about this that even though my products were vegan, certified organic by a third party and checked by the California food inspectors, no one asked what my natural flavors consisted of. I could have put anything I wanted in there! That just shows how scary this is; it seems as if the government doesn't care what's in there either.

Much of the time, these flavor chemicals are probably harmless but I like knowing what I'm putting into my body. The whole BPA thing in plastic is a great example of how many people thought that food grade plastic was safe because it was approved by the FDA. Then it turned out that Bisphenol-A was an endocrine disruptor and everyone said "Whoops! We've all been eating that for decades." How many other examples of that are there that just haven't come to light yet?

I stay away from exotic flavorings like root beer and watermelon and strive to incorporate the actual food products into my foods naturally whenever possible. You can concentrate certain liquids by using a slow cooker on low with the lid off to reduce it by a factor of two about every five hours.

Eating products consisting of synthesized food flavors probably won't kill you in moderation but paying a little attention doesn't hurt either.

So far, for the most part I trust companies like Frontier and Flavorganics but I try to stay away from any products, no matter who makes them, that use natural flavors or artificial flavors.
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