Most people think of artificial flavors as the cheap, synthetic options that come in bottles marked "artificial flavors." But in reality, artificial ingredients are used throughout the food industry and they're often hidden under different names. Artificial flavors may be found in foods that you think are made with natural products like blueberries or grapefruit juice. These ingredients can also include chemicals which haven't been proven safe but are still used by manufacturers because they're cheaper than using real ingredients.
Artificial flavors are made from chemicals.
The FDA requires that artificial flavors be labeled as such on food packaging, but they often aren’t listed individually and instead go under general terms like “artificial flavor” or “flavoring.”
While there are many naturally occurring chemicals used in cooking, the ones used in artificial flavorings come from petroleum products (like gasoline), coal tar derivatives (like benzene) or other toxic substances that have been linked to cancer and other health problems. Some of these chemicals are also known endocrine disruptors—which means they mimic hormones in our bodies and can throw off our hormonal balance—and interfere with our metabolism by messing with the way we digest food.
Artificial flavors require more research to be proven safe.
Natural flavors can be a good option for those looking to avoid potentially unsafe artificial food additives.