Clean Ways to Deal with Challenging Flavors [Presentation]

Originally Published: October 12, 2022
Last Updated: November 22, 2022
Clean Ways to Deal with Challenging Flavors [Presentation]

Abstract: In most cases, flavor is the primary determinant of consumers’ enjoyment and, ultimately, acceptance of food. Going to great lengths to create food products with desirable flavor attributes, companies often achieved this by the judicious use of natural and/or artificial flavorings. The clean label environment has caused the food and flavor industries to rethink using and labeling ingredients. Even the phrase “contains natural flavors” is not always considered positive in consumers’ minds since it indicates that a foreign ingredient has been added. In extreme cases, when it is desired to declare only ingredients considered wholesome by the clean label-conscious consumer, one must find alternative approaches to generate, enhance, or otherwise impart flavor to the product. This talk discusses effective ways to achieve optimal flavor in a clean label world.

Keith Cadwallader, Ph.D., Dept. of Food Science & Human Nutrition, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign—Speaker at the 2022 Clean Label Conference

Extract from a summary article titled Natural Flavoring Use in a Clean Label World of this presentation is as follows:

Flavor is a complicated, multisensory experience that encompasses taste, odor, texture, appearance, temperature, trigeminal profiles and even sound: potato chips must “crunch.” Odor, however, is the predominant force in flavor, responsible for about 80-95% of the perception of flavor. Most commercial flavorings, therefore, are primarily composed of aroma chemicals.

Plant-sourced flavors, such as extracts, essences and essential oil, are considered clean label, as are flavors derived via fermentation. Even if defined and regulated as natural, consumers may not accept it as a clean label ingredient. For example, liquid smoke is made via a natural process that consumers might view as a chemical processing step.

Other flavors considered natural from a regulatory perspective that may not be viewed as clean label by consumers include GMO technology-derived flavors or flavors obtained from nuts (because of potential allergen concerns). Common natural flavors such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) or autolyzed yeast extract (AYE) have technical names, which may make them less acceptable for some.