I was browning some meat today, making lasagna to send to the baby-sitters while I was out of town this weekend, and casually glanced at the packaging that the ground turkey had been in. That is when I saw it. There in the ingredient list - NATURAL FLAVORING. What the heck is that?!?!? I bought turkey! All I wanted was turkey! What was that natural flavoring stuff?
So, like any concerned consumer would do, I looked it up. I didn't like what I found.
The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations describes a "natural flavorant" as:
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 any other edible portions of a plant, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose primary function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional
Because I wasn't 100% sure what all of that meant, I did a bit more looking. I found a website called The Fit Shack, and the author wrote an article that broke things down really well into layman's terms. Basically, "natural flavoring" is a man-made additive created by people called "flavorists". The best I can gather, it is added to foods to enhance the flavor.
Ulrimately, what I want to know is, "Is it bad for me?" The author of The Fit Shack article didn't know, and I can't find any definitive answers on the internet telling yes or no, either. Much like The Fit Shack author, I question whether this chemical additive is truly necessary.
Have you ever looked at the ingredient panel of your fresh or ground meats? Is it possible to buy ground meats in the supermarket without these additives? How can the FDA or the USDA or whoever regulates these products allow companies to put theses additives into our food?
It's difficult enough to encourage our kids to make healthy snack choices because of all of the commercials peddling crap on TV. Now we have have to monitor what are supposed to be pure, whole, unprocessed foods?
Clearly, I'm disgruntled. I don't have any answers. I'm just so incredibly frustrated with the food industry in this country.