Food Flavors: Dangerous To Our Health?
Foods are naturally aromatic, that is to say peculiar odors perceptible in the mouth, then spoke of natural food flavors.The food flavors we are talking about are those that are added to the food in the manufacturing process. They are found in many products that we consume every day in order to improve the taste and the smell! It is, however, rather difficult to trace them so much. But are they harmless to our organism? What are their effects on our health?
Food flavors: what are they?
Flavors are complex molecules that are present in all foods, naturally or artificially. Volatile compounds, they are captured by the retro-nasal route. Very used in the food industry (about 2,600) food flavors are created to strengthen or reproduce a taste.
To control the production of these flavors, a Healthy directive has defined 5 families of flavorings:
- Natural flavors : of animal or vegetable origin. These flavors must not have undergone any transformation, except at the time of their extraction.
- Artificial flavors : these aromas are created chemically by aromaticians. They do not exist in nature and are often much more powerful.
- The identical flavors : these aromas are obtained by synthesis and their chemical composition is identical to those of the natural flavors that they copy.
- Smoke flavors : These flavors are obtained by the combustion of wood with a specific odor and are used in the production of sauces, cold meats, and aperitif cakes.
- The process flavors: they reproduce the aromas that are created during the cooking of certain foods. They are present in many soups, sauces, culinary aids but also in certain cooked dishes.
Why do we find so many food flavors in our diet?
Food flavors are now present in almost every food we eat daily. At the beginning of industrialization, in order to compensate for the aromatic loss during the manufacturing processes, it was necessary to create new ingredients capable of compensating for this loss of taste and olfaction.
But nowadays, we are no longer there. Food flavors no longer serve solely as flavor enhancers, they also create new products with new fragrances and flavors.
In order to offer the consumer quality products and innovate constantly, manufacturers have had to resort to a complete aromatization and automation of these flavors, synthesized, extracted or artificially created.
The demand for new sensations and tastes, the effect of fashion and industrialization as a whole are responsible for the profusion of aromas on our plates. Chips taste barbecue, acidulated sweets, drinks, as many products whose aromas have been transformed or created in order to be always more competitive.
Are food flavors dangerous to our health?
The use of food flavorings is now rigorously regulated by two European texts (1334/2008 and 872/2012) and is subject to regular checks. All flavoring substances on the market must appear on the product label . Thus, the consumer is informed of the presence or absence of a possible food flavor in the food he is about to buy and consume.
As early as 2008, experts from EFSA, the European Food Safety Agency, decided to evaluate all flavors used, whether artificial or natural.
EFSA also evaluates each year the new flavors that enter the market. A list of flavorings that is safe for human health has also emerged in 2012, and this list is expanding every year with new flavors, the safety of which has been demonstrated. The flavors present in the products we consume are therefore safe for health. However, favor natural aromas with chemical aromas.
The term ‘aroma’ implies that the food contains aromas of artificial origin. If the aromas are of natural origin, the words “natural flavor of …” or “natural extract of …” will be indicated on the composition label of the product.
Some people may turn out to be allergic to certain food molecules . Flavors extracted or synthesized from foods recognized as allergens may have the same effects. It is therefore essential for these people to refer to the label to verify their composition.