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Food Flavors
Flavorings are intense preparations which are added to foods in order to impart taste and/or smell. These food flavours are used in small amounts and are not intended to be consumed alone. There are certain natural food flavors which are derived from herbs, spices and substances having an exclusively sweet, sour or salt taste. These natural food flavors are not included in the definition of flavorings for regulatory purposes.

Types of Food Flavoring

Flavorings are used as food additives for altering and/or enhancing the flavors of natural food products. Sometimes, food flavorings are also used to create flavor for food products that do not have desired flavors such as candies and other snacks. There are three major types of food flavorings that are used in foods. These types of flavorings are mostly used as criteria for food regulatory purposes in European Union and Australia. In North America, the classification of flavorings is done as - Natural flavorings and Synthetic flavorings. The Synthetic flavorings there include both artificial and nature-identical flavourings.

Natural flavoring substances: Flavoring substances that are obtained from plant or animal raw materials, by physical, microbiological or enzymatic processes are classified as natural flavoring substances. These natural flavorings can be either used in their natural form or processed form for consumption by human beings. However, they cannot contain any nature-identical or artificial flavoring substances.

Nature-identical flavoring substances: Nature-identical substances are the flavoring substances that are obtained by synthesis or are isolated through chemical processes, which are chemically identical to flavoring substances naturally present in products intended for consumption by human beings. These flavorings cannot contain any artificial flavouring substances.

Artificial flavoring substances: Flavoring substances that are not identified in a natural product intended for consumption by human being- whether or not the product is processed- are artificial flavoring substances. These food flavorings are typically produced by fractional distillation and additional chemical manipulation naturally sourced chemicals or from crude oil or coal tar.

Chemicals Associated With Particular Flavours
Chemical Flavour
Allylpyrazine Roasted nut
Methoxypyrazines Earthy vegetables
2-Isobutyl-3 Methoxypyrazine Green pepper
Acetyl-L-Pyrazines Popcorn
2-Acetoxy Pyrazine Toasted flavours
Aldehydes Fruity, green
Alcohols Bitter, medicinal
Esters Fruity
Ketones Butter, caramel
Pyrazines Brown, burnt, caramel,
Phenolics Medicinal, smokey
Terpenoids Citrus, piney

Smoke flavoring substances : Although it is not one of the basic flavorings, smoke flavoring has come up as a significant food flavoring substance in the world of food additives. Smoke flavoring is a natural flavouring concentrate obtained by subjecting untreated and uncontaminated hardwood, including sawdust and woody plants, to one or more of the se listed processes for obtaining fractions which have the desired flavour potential. As per the above classification, we get three types of flavorings- natural flavorings, nature identical flavoring and artificial flavoring. There is also a difference for regulation of natural food flavoring in the US and EU that can be made clear by the definitions provided by the food laws of both the regions.

Regulatory Definitions of Natural Flavoring

The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations defines a "natural flavorant" as:

"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 any other edible portions of a plant, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose primary function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional."

The UK Food Law defines a natural flavor as:

"a flavouring substance (or flavouring substances) which is (or 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."

Basic Food Flavors

There are three basic parameters based on which all food flavorings are made. These three components of food flavours are- smell, taste and color.

Flavoring Smell

Making Food Flavorings
Making Food Flavors
Making of flavoring smells or odors are similar to the making process of industrial fragrances and perfumes. To make natural flavors with desired smell, the flavorant is extracted from the source substance through various methods like solvent extraction, distillation, or using force to squeeze it out. These extracts are then further purified and added to food products in order to give them a particular flavor. To make artificial flavors, the individual naturally occurring aroma chemicals are identified and then mixed to produce a desired flavor. These mixtures are formulated by flavor chemist or flavorist to give a food product a unique flavor and to maintain flavor consistency between different product batches or after recipe changes.

Flavoring Tastes

There are four basic tastes known to human beings- sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. The substances that enhance umami and other secondary flavors are considered to be taste flavorants. The dictionary defines umami as- "a taste that is characteristic of monosodium glutamate and is associated with meats and other high-protein foods. It is sometimes considered to be a fifth basic taste along with sweet, sour, salty, and bitter." Therefore flavoring tastes can be identified with flavor enhancers that are largely based on amino acids and nucleotides and are typically used as sodium or calcium salts. Some of the Umami flavorants recognized and approved by the European Union include:

Flavoring Colors

The color of food also affect its flavor. Therefore, food flavor suppliers have all kinds of flavoring colors with them. Food colorings are derived from natural sources as well as from chemicals. The flavoring color additive regulations around the world are different from each other. Certain food colors that are permitted to be used in Europe or Asia may not be acceptable in the United States and vice versa.

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