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Old 07-07-2016, 05:28 AM   #1
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How to know when aromas and flavorings are natural and not artificial?

Hi,

My wife has a gluten allergy and I was puzzled when I saw both "starch" as well as "wheat starch" and "corn starch" listed on labels.
If it said just plain "starch", could it, in fact, be wheat starch?
I live in France, so I wrote to the European Food Safety Authority in Parma and was informed that if the word "starch" is not qualified then, thanks to EU regulations, it is necessarily a type that can be consumed by people who are gluten intolerant

I only bring this up because I am also confused by wording such as "truffle aroma" or "truffle flavoring" on lists of ingredients. If this is artificial, must it say so?
Obviously, in most instances natural flavorings are more expensive, and I'd like to think better.
So, when I buy, for instance, a small jar of truffle oïl, how to know if this is made with the real thing, or a chemical additive?


Of course, I realize that laws vary from one country to another, but I would be interested to know what it's like where you live.

Best regards,
Alex R.

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Old 07-07-2016, 06:59 AM   #2
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We have what we call in lt this country a law called "Truth in Advertising." I believe it goes as far as listing the ingredients on the back of labels. What it means is that the manufacturer of a products cannot make false statements about their product.

So if a products states on the front of the product that it is gluten free, and then they list a product on the back of ingredients that has gluten in it, then the FDA makes them take the "Gluten Free" off of the front. But the manufacturers are sneaky. They list the chemical names for their ingredients. Words the average member of the public has no idea of what they mean. As a result, the public only sees and believes it is a gluten free product. We are getting smarter in knowing that any word that ends in "ose" means a type of sugar products in those ingredients. Something diabetics know to look for.

The FDA and USDA does make an effort to keep up with the tricks of the manufacturers. But with the millions of food products that are out there, and the hundreds of new ones that hit the market each year, it is almost an impossible job. Both departments are woefully understaffed.

The only really true recourse the public has in protecting their selves, is to self educate themselves in the meaning of the words on the back of the products they buy.

Each month the FDA and USDA publish a report of what food and other manufactured products have been recalled and are a danger to the public. Those are the only sources of protection we have in this country. Along with self education.
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Old 07-07-2016, 09:53 AM   #3
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Hi, Alex. There are lots of plants from which food manufacturers derive non-gluten starch, such as rice, potatoes and cassava. Those are not a problem for people who eat gluten-free.

You can tell if you're buying true truffle oil by the price Truffles are extremely expensive so an inexpensive truffle oil is made with artificial flavoring. In the United States, the label must say so. I don't know about in the EU.

Natural and artificial flavors are chemically indistinguishable. In other words, they are exactly the same. The only difference is how they were made.

Addie is incorrect to say that manufacturers "sneakily" put chemical names on product packages. The reason for using chemical names instead of common names is not to confuse people but to precisely describe the contents. Common names can have different meanings in do places, but chemical names are very specific.
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Old 07-07-2016, 10:48 AM   #4
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Got Garlic,

You say that "Natural and artificial flavors are chemically indistinguishable".

If that is true why, for instance, does natural vanilla extract cost so much more than the artificial stuff?
Could there - must there not be - other factors, molécules, etc. that add something to the basic compound?

Perhaps I am deluding myself thinking that truffle oïl made with real truffles and vanilla extract made from pods is not only more natural, but also superior tastewise.

Any thoughts there?

Best,
Alex R.
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Old 07-07-2016, 11:00 AM   #5
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Because "natural" vanilla extract is made from vanilla beans, which have to be planted, raised, and harvested and then made into extract, all of which takes time, which costs money. Creating a chemical combination in a lab is much faster and more efficient and the inputs cost much less.

We made a peppermint extract in a high school biology class. It's not very difficult and doesn't take long.
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Old 07-07-2016, 11:07 AM   #6
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You might be interested in this article:

Quote:
There is little substantive difference in the chemical compositions of natural and artificial flavorings. They are both made in a laboratory by a trained professional, a "flavorist," who blends appropriate chemicals together in the right proportions. The flavorist uses "natural" chemicals to make natural flavorings and "synthetic" chemicals to make artificial flavorings. The flavorist creating an artificial flavoring must use the*same*chemicals in his formulation as would be used to make a natural flavoring, however. Otherwise, the flavoring will not have the desired flavor. The distinction in flavorings--natural versus artificial--comes from the*source of these identical chemicals and may be likened to saying that an apple sold in a gas station is artificial and one sold from a fruit stand is natural."
http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...be-2002-07-29/
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Old 07-07-2016, 11:21 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
Because "natural" vanilla extract is made from vanilla beans, which have to be planted, raised, and harvested and then made into extract, all of which takes time, which costs money. Creating a chemical combination in a lab is much faster and more efficient and the inputs cost much less.

We made a peppermint extract in a high school biology class. It's not very difficult and doesn't take long.

This is a good article that describes a real vs. artificial vanilla taste test

https://www.cooksillustrated.com/tas...anilla-extract




Kenji agrees: http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2013/1...the-price.html
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Old 07-07-2016, 11:29 AM   #8
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Yes, that's great information. Thanks, jenny.
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Old 07-07-2016, 11:46 AM   #9
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Got Garlic,

I'm furthering the discussion not in a spirit of contradiction, but to try to understand.

I'm of course willing to accept that some simple synthetic food flavors are indistinguishable from the real thing. In a way, they *are* the real thing, because their chemical composition, the active ingredient, is analytically exactly the same.

My question is this: how far can that premise go?


Is there not a sort of scale where flavors move beyond the realm of laboratory imitations?

Are recipes calling for vanilla beans or real truffle flavor just for romantics hopelessly behind the times?
Why to people buy them?
I’m thinking too of things like balsamic vinegar where the real stuff costs a bomb.


Personally, I would pay significantly more for truffle oil made with real truffles.
Maybe the only way to see whether this reasoning is valid would be to do a taste test.
However, because of the cursed labelling, I don’t know what’s natural and what isn’t!


I am a wine geek who loves blind tasting. I especially like it when inexpensive wines clobber prestigious expensive ones when compared side by side.
How would I feel if some chemist concocted an artificial cocktail that I quite enjoyed?
Perhaps considering that “natural is best” is just wishful thinking…


Does anyone on the forum feel that ecological and economic factors aside, artificial flavorings are actually indistinguishable from complex natural ones?
Can the chemists come close to reproducing just about all common flavors?

Alex R.
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Old 07-07-2016, 11:51 AM   #10
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There is a yellow candy, banana flavored with artificial flavoring. I personally think the flavorist that put the banana flavor together with artificial flavoring had different taste buds than I do. I absolutely hate the flavor but I like bananas. My sister loves the artificial banana flavored candy.

I'm a big fan of the flavor 'red', because most red candy tastes good to me. My kids always made fun of my preference for 'red'. "Mom, red is not a flavor!"
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