Flavour plays such an important role in our daily meals. The flavour industry has revolutionized flavourings into a huge business industry.
A. 3 Types of Flavouring
1. Natural Flavouring
These are flavours which are obtained from animal and vegetable sources. They are produced by microbiological and enzymatic processes. This natural flavouring do not contain any natural-identitcal flavouring or artificial flavouring.
Natural citral is extracted from lemon grass. Vanillin is obtained from vanilla pods.
2. Nature-Identical Flavouring
These are 'chemically identical' to the natural flavouring but they are prepared or extracted using chemical methods. The molecules of the natural-identical flavouring are of the same as the natural flavouring thus the body is unable to tell the difference.
Vanilla extract is chemically produced from a plant material called lignin.
3. Artificial Flavouring
These are chemicals whose molecules are not identical or even similar to the natural flavourings.
Ethyl vanillin is a synthetic molecule not found in nature. This is three times stronger than vanillin and is used in the production of chocolates. Ethyl maltol is used as a flavourant in confectionaries as it has a sweet smell and produces a flavour similar to caramelized sugar/cooked fruit.
B. Regulations on Natural Flavourings
1. UK Food Law
'A flavouring substance(s) which is/are obtained by physical, enzymatic or microbiological processes from material of vegetable or animal origin which material is either raw or has been subjected to a process normally used in preparing food for human consumption and to no process other than one normally so used.'
Taken from here.
2. US FDA
'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 any other edible portions of a plant, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products, thereof, whose primary function is flavouring rather than nutritional.'
Taken from here.
3. European Union
On 1 October 2012, the Commission adopted two new Regulations on flavourings. Firstly, they established a new list of EU authorized flavouring substances to be used in foods which includes over 2100 authorized flavouring substances. The second Regulation was the transitional measures for other flavourings (about 400) which are made from non-food sources. For an in-depth understanding of this transitional period, click on LINK.
For a complete list of permitted flavouring substances in the EU, click on LINK.