Monday, December 10, 2012

The Elusive Three

Natural flavors. Caramel coloring. Fragrance.

What are these ingredients....really?

Natural Flavoring

The definition of natural flavor under the Code of Federal Regulations 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” (21CFR101.22). (see here)

According to an article I read, "natural flavors" are no safer to ingest than some artificial flavors because they are also chemically derived (they can be called natural because they are derived from a natural source). Interesting.

Caramel Color

What is this "color" if not actual caramel? Well, it's complicated. Apparently, there are four types of this so-called "caramel color." Each made with a different chemical reaction. Keep in mind, that these reactions produce by products that are not required to be listed as an ingredient, because, after all, they are just by products.  

Reacting sugars with ammonia results in the formation of numerous chemical byproducts. Two of them, 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, have been shown in government studies to promote lung, liver, and thyroid tumors in laboratory rats and mice.
California public health officials recently placed 4-methylimidazole on the state's list of known carcinogens. Scientists at the University of California at Davis recently found significant levels of 4 methylimidazole in colas that far exceeds what the state considers to be safe. This sets the stage for warning labels on diet and regular Coke and Pepsi and many other soft drinks unless the companies shift to safer colorings. Going one step further, the Center for Science in the Public Interest is today asking the Food and Drug Administration to bar the use of ammonia- and ammonia-sulfite process caramel colorings. (see here)
 Needless to say, read your labels!:)


You see this word listed on tons of beauty products, candles, room sprays, etc. But what is it? What makes up this "fragrance?" Let me enlighten you. 

The word "fragrance" or "parfum" on the product label represents an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients used as fragrance dispersants such as diethyl phthalate. Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system. (see here)
I got this information from the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetic Database (if you've never visited this site, you should - great to know what ingredients you're actually putting on your body or in your air!). Turns out, it's not as pretty as it sounds (or smells for that matter:). 

Hope this information is useful to you.

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