The definition of natural flavouring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavouring 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 flavouring rather than nutritional. And artificial flavourings are those that are made from components that do not meet the above definition.
But the biggest question is; what are the real differences between Natural and Artificial flavours?
They are both made in a laboratory by a Flavourist, who blends certain chemicals together in the right proportions. The Flavourist uses natural chemicals to make natural flavourings and synthetic chemicals to make artificial flavourings. The Flavourist uses the exact same chemicals to create natural and artificial flavours; the only difference is the source of these identical chemicals. The artificial flavourings are potentially safer, due to the fact that they only use safety-tested components and are simpler in composition. Natural flavourings will always have a small number of contaminants that the extraction process will not remove.
Another difference between natural and artificial flavourings is cost. When they obtain the natural source of chemicals, it often requires that the manufacturer goes to great lengths to obtain a given chemical. Natural coconut flavourings, for example, depend on a chemical called massoya lactone. This chemical comes from the bark of the Massoya tree, which grows in Malaysia. Collecting this natural chemical kills the tree because harvesters must remove the bark and extract it to obtain the lactone. Furthermore, the process is costly. This pure natural chemical is identical to the version made in an organic chemist’s laboratory, yet it is much more expensive than the synthetic alternative. Consumers pay a lot for natural flavourings. But these are in fact no better in quality, nor are they safer, than their cost-effective artificial counterparts.