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Rodrigo Louvat
I am a Marketing Associate at Tera in charge of digital marketing and content creation, writing blog articles and newsletters. Drop me a line at if you feel like it!

Artificial vs Natural Flavors: Uncovering Health Risks & Safe Alternatives

   natural flavors

Artificial and Natural Flavors: What You Need to Know

Artificial and natural flavors are added to foods and beverages to make them taste better – and make them addictive so we consume more of them – not a good thing for our health as ultra-processed foods are very unhealthy to begin with.  They can be natural or artificial. Natural flavors are derived from plants or animals, while artificial flavors are created in a lab.

Both natural and artificial flavors can be harmful to our health. Natural flavors can contain allergenspesticides, and other toxins. Artificial flavors can contain even more harmful chemicals, including carcinogenshormone disruptors, and neurotoxins.

Anti natural flavors image

What are Artificial Flavors?

Artificial flavors are food additives that mimic the taste of natural flavors. They are created by chemists in a lab using a variety of chemicals, including petroleum productsalcohols, and esters.

Artificial flavors are often used in processed foods because they are cheaper than natural flavors and can be made to taste like anything the manufacturer wants. However, they may also contain harmful chemicals that can pose a risk to our health.

What are Natural Flavors?

These flavors are food additives that are derived from plants or animals. They are often used in processed foods to give them a more natural taste.

Natural flavors can be safe, but they can also contain allergenspesticides, and other toxins. Additionally, some natural flavors are processed in ways that make them more harmful than their original form.

Why Are Artificial and Natural Flavors Potentially Harmful?

Both artificial and natural flavors can be potentially harmful to our health. Some of the specific risks associated with these additives include:

      1. Allergies: Both artificial and natural flavors can trigger allergic reactions in some people. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to a flavor additive can include skin irritation, hives, and difficulty breathing.

      1. Endocrine disruption: Certain chemicals found in flavors have been linked to endocrine disruption, which can interfere with our hormone systems. This disruption can have far-reaching effects on our overall health, potentially leading to reproductive issues, developmental disorders, and even certain cancers.

      1. Neurotoxicity: Some chemicals found in flavors can damage our nervous system, leading to symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and memory loss. In severe cases, neurotoxicity can even lead to death.

      1. Environmental impact: The production of flavors has a significant environmental impact. Chemicals from flavored products can find their way into water bodies, potentially harming aquatic life and disrupting ecosystems. Additionally, the production of flavors often involves non-renewable resources and generates pollution.

    the problem and safer options of artificial and natural flavors

    How to Avoid Artificial and Natural Flavors

    The best way to avoid artificial and natural flavors is to eat whole, unprocessed foods. These foods do not contain any added flavors. If you do choose to eat processed foods, read the ingredient label carefully. If “natural flavors” or “artificial flavors” are listed, it is best to avoid the product.

    You can also look for products that are labeled as “organic”. These products are not allowed to contain artificial flavors. Additionally, you can look for products that are certified by a third-party organization, such as USDA Organic, the Non-GMO Project, or the Clean Label Project, yet these certifications will sometimes make dubious exceptions. It is always best to scan products and analyze the ingredients with Tera. In the upcoming new version of the app, we are flagging products with natural and artificial flavors as potentially harmful to your health by releasing a new app feature that detects and flags all undisclosed ingredients hidden behind generic terms. More in my next newsletter.

    Taking Action to Protect Our Health and the Environment

    By educating ourselves and making informed choices, we can collectively drive change in the industry and protect our health and the environment. Here are some things you can do to make a difference:

        • Use Tera to verify products and avoid any that contain artificial or natural flavors.

        • Support brands that prioritize consumer safety and transparency.

        • Ask your elected officials to support legislation that requires food manufacturers to disclose the ingredients in artificial and natural flavors.

        • Educate your friends and family about the potential dangers of artificial and natural flavors.

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