Most commercial vanillin is synthesized from guaiacol — a natural compound in wood smoke and clove oil.
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It’s a myth that artificial vanilla flavoring comes from castoreum extracted from beaver castor sacs.
Flavor chemists explain that artificial vanilla flavor is made from synthetic vanillin.
Vanillin is usually synthesized from compounds found in clove oil, wood, and bark.
From cake mixes and candy to cereal and ice cream, artificial flavorings like vanilla, strawberry, and raspberry can be found in a wide range of processed foods.
The FDA doesn’t require listing all the ingredients in these additives, which leaves a lot open to interpretation and misunderstanding.
For example, in recent years, a claim began spreading like wildfire on the internet that artificial vanilla — and to a certain extent raspberry and strawberry — flavorings come from beavers’ anal secretions.
While shocking and fodder for friendly conversation, the claims were over dramatized and over hyped. So where do these artificial flavorings come from?
To find out, we spoke with some flavor chemists about how these artificial flavors are made — and spoiler alert: It doesn’t actually involve beaver butts in any capacity whatsoever.
Why most vanilla flavoring is artificial and not natural
There are a limited number of flavor chemists in the world who develop the artificial flavorings in many of our favorite processed food.
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Natural flavors come from edible sources found in nature like fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, leaves, and roots, whereas artificial flavors are produced in a lab where certified flavor chemists or “flavorists,” experiment with chemical combinations.
There are only an estimated 400 or so working certified flavorists worldwide, according to the Society of Flavor Chemists. The career involves highly-specialized training for at least seven years and the flavor combinations they study and develop are considered top secret.
Luckily, Robert J. McGorrin, PhD, a professor of flavor chemistry at Oregon State University and fellow at the American Chemical Society, was willing to speak with us. He said, many food companies use artificial flavors because extracting natural flavors from fruits and other plants is labor-intensive and expensive. And vanilla is no exception.
McGorrin said the supply of vanilla beans can’t even come close to meeting current demands. Additionally, he noted that the price of vanilla beans fluctuates …read more
Source:: Business Insider