“A recent survey from FONA International, Inc., Geneva, Ill., found 89% of consumers believe the term “natural flavors” qualifies as clean label. However, the ambiguous descriptor has come under scrutiny as more consumers question how food ingredients are processed.
Natural flavor or flavoring means “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 flavoring rather than nutritional,” according to the US Food and Drug Administration.
This distinguishes natural flavors from artificial flavors, which rely on synthetic chemicals to add taste and aroma to food. The FDA permits the use of synthetic additives such as solvents, preservatives and emulsifiers in the processing of natural flavors, which food and beverage manufacturers are not required to disclose on the ingredient statement”