What Exactly Is ‘Natural Beef Flavor’?

September 29, 2015

How “natural flavors” are made, labeled, and lurking in your food.

The American flavor industry is expected to earn an estimated $15.1 billion annually by 2020, an unsurprising number given that at this point, almost all processed foods (and many non-processed foods) include flavor additives. But the term “flavor additives” is deliberately vague. Companies are not required to disclose the ingredients of flavor additives if all components are considered generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — and most manufacturers decline to get into specifics. If you think of flavorings as the proverbial secret sauce, it makes…