The word “artificial” has several dictionary definitions. 1. Produced by humans. 2. Lacking naturalness. 3. Made without regard to the particular needs of a situation or person. All three definitions are fitting for artificial food (and drink) additives.
This Artificial Additives series can help you understand why EnergyFirst avoids including these harmful artificial ingredients in our products.
The Coktail cEffect
As mentioned before, the “cocktail effect” of being exposed to multiple additives multiple times is potentially dangerous and quite unknown. Most additives are studied in isolation, not in combination with other additives and ingredients. Both the combined effects and the long-term effects are regrettably unknown. The laundry list of banned additives is made up of ingredients that were once used, sold, and consumed by the general public. In most cases, researchers had to wait until severe consequences appeared for a clear, definitive conclusion to be made about the safety of these ingredients. It is also important to note that artificial ingredients give us no nutrients even though the purpose of eating is to get the nutrients our body needs to function at its best.
There are overwhelming reports and cases of digestive problems (diarrhea, abdominal pain), respiratory problems, skin problems (rash, itch, hives, swelling), and even nervous disorders (irritable, hyperactive, sleep disorders). Are these symptoms and the potential risks worth it? Well, let’s see why artificial flavoring is used in the first place.
Natural, Artificial, and the In-between
There are a few natural flavors out there that are extracted from plants, herbs, fruits, and other foods. Acetic acid, which is the chemical that gives vinegar its potent taste, is often used as a natural flavoring and preservative.
Other natural flavorings, however, come with a “price”. Castoreum, for example, is extracted from the anal castor sacs of beavers. This natural flavor is used especially to impart a vanilla flavor. Although no health risks are posed, many find that this natural flavoring is, well, too natural.
Natural flavorings can be costly for profit-driven companies. That is where artificial flavoring, the cheaper substitute, comes in. These flavorings are a “chemical soup” formulated to create a flavor or smell that is perceived as the natural flavor or smell of real foods. The thousands of new, invented flavors are used to restore the natural flavors that are lost when foods are heavily processed.
Some of these ingredients are actually flavor enhancers. They do not impart a specific flavor but enhance palatability by accentuating flavors already present. Why does a natural flavor already present need to be “enhanced”? Usually it is because there is very little of the actual natural ingredient present in that product.
The Deep Secret
The ingredient list often proves to be confusing, ambiguous, and unreliable. In fact, it is usually a food company’s deep secret. Often, words are used that may sound like the food is found in its natural state. Ingredients like blueberry flavoring or even natural cherry flavoring, however, can be far from natural. If you think about it, why would the “flavoring” be required if the real food was in there? In fact, certain cherry flavors with the word “natural” in them contain benzaldehyde, which we will learn about in the following list.
Here is just a brief list of some common artificial flavorings:
Amyl Acetate: This artificial flavor has been used to impart a banana or pear flavor. It may lead to chest pain, headaches, fatigue, chest pain, indigestion, and depression of the nervous system as most petroleum-based chemicals are known for.