Let’s talk about natural flavors. Chances are if you read the ingredients on your packaged food items, you’ll see natural flavors. Many of you probably never gave it a second thought and why should you!? It is natural. Natural things are good for you... Right? You might be surprised by what natural flavors actually are, and how the food industry has used the term to its advantage over the years. It’s important to understand what is in these so-called natural flavors and how companies use them in their products.
Food companies started to use natural as a marketing tool because they found that consumers believed the term to be associated with the healthiness of the product. While saying natural makes you think that something is being grown somewhere, this is hardly the case with natural flavors. In reality, there isn’t much of a difference between natural and artificial flavorings, but it can cause people to think that they are eating healthier than they actually are.
The main difference between natural and artificial flavors is that the FDA requires natural flavors to be derived from oils, resins, or other extracts from natural sources like plants, meats, or seafood. The problem is that they don’t limit the harmful preservatives, solvents, and sweeteners that can also go into these natural flavors. So even though they technically come from natural sources, these lab-bred flavorings are filled with so many ingredients that it’s tough to really know what they are.
It’s possible that the FDA doesn’t even know of all the ingredients in some of the natural flavors! Most of the chemicals used in natural flavors are considered “generally recognized as safe”. However many of the chemicals under that category are under-researched by the FDA and there isn’t very much data on the long-term outcomes of consuming those chemicals over time. But as long as all of the ingredients fall under that category, the food company doesn’t need to disclose the full ingredients list of the natural flavor.
That is why we decided to never include natural flavors in our bars. Other bars and health food companies that utilize these natural flavors think you won’t question their product if it tastes good enough and has low sugar and high protein. But we don’t want a bar full of chemicals, and our hunch is that you don’t either. Don’t you want a real bar???