Most of us feel that artificial flavorings are somehow inferior to natural flavorings, but is this a valid stance? We all seem to believe that natural is somehow better and safer for us.
Gary Reineccius, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Food Science, seeks to clarify the differences and there safety in an article in Scientific American.
The labeling of a flavor as artificial or natural is defined by the Code of Federal Regulations as being:
“a natural flavor is 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 similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”
However, this does not mean that all natural flavors are taken from the name they carry. For example, a natural strawberry flavoring could have come from a natural source other than strawberries. Consumers rarely understand this point, I know I was surprised.
Reineccius further explains that artificial flavors are based on the primary molecules in that particular food otherwise the flavor will be off. Therefore, natural apple flavorings and artificial apple flavorings contain the same chemicals.
So what are the differences?
The difference is source and the number of chemicals in a flavoring. An artificial flavoring will have a much smaller list of chemicals compared to the natural flavoring. A flavorist can also test each chemical for safety and toxicity leading to a safer flavoring.
Another importance difference is sourcing. Some natural flavorings may require damaging the ecosystem of an area to harvest a particular plant. This is something that is avoided by the artificial flavoring.
Electronic cigarettes are safer in theory because of the number of molecules contained in the eLiquid. Less molecules with a researched safety history leads to less exposure to harmful chemicals. The average cigarette delivers around 4,000 chemicals while electronic cigarettes deliver a much smaller amount. The artificial flavorings reduce the number of chemicals we are exposed to, thus reducing the chances of an allergic reaction.
What I gather from all this information is that artificial flavorings in electronic cigarettes are not a reason to be alarmed. As with anything we ingest, we must listen to our bodies and avoid anything that gives us a negative reaction like a sore throat or coughing.
What do you think?