Flavors, Colors, Thickeners, and Emulsifiers

Andelka Bacak

Department of Quality Assurance & Food Safety, Granarolo S.p.A., Bologna, Italy


Flavorings substances are used to give or improve the food taste and/or smell. They include:

  • • Flavoring substances obtained by chemical synthesis or isolated using chemical processes
  • • Natural flavoring substances

If the term natural is used to describe a flavor, the flavoring components used should be entirely of natural origin. The old EU definitions for the different types of flavorings (natural, natural-identical, or artificial flavoring substances, flavoring preparations of plant or animal origin, process flavorings that develop flavor after heating, and smoke flavorings) have been abrogated.

Flavors are essential to food acceptability by consumers. They are added to foods or drinks to:

  • • Impart a specific odor / flavor or to modify the existing one
  • • Standardize the organoleptic characteristics of the ingredients originated from different lots or origins (e.g., fruit)

Flavorings found in nature are complex matrices of volatile and nonvolatile components. Plants like herbs, flowers, fruits, roots and their parts containing flavors are considered natural flavors. A wide range of compounds is responsible for aroma in foodstuffs, among which are alcohols, aldehydes, esters, carbonyl compounds, fatty acids with short or medium chain, methyl ketones, lactones, phenolic compounds, and sulfur compounds.

Enormous progress has been made with the identification ofvolatile organic compounds in foods. Today, the number of discrete VOCs detected in foods stands at over 10,000, as listed in the Nutrition and Food Research Institute of the Netherlands (TNO) publication website Volatile Compounds in Foods (VCF) (http://www.vcf-online.nl). The VCF register is the recognized world authority on the occurrence of volatile compounds in food, and the latest version, 15.2, lists 13 product groups with over 680 food sources in which flavoring substances have been identified (Taylor et al., 2007).

Advances in Dairy Products, First Edition.

Edited by Francesco Conto, Matteo A. Del Nobile, Michele Faccia, Angelo V. Zambrini, and Amalia Conte.

© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Published 2018 by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

The flavoring molecules can be divided into different categories, according to their chemical structure. Each category can be split according to the functional groups present.

Classification of food aroma compounds are based on their chemical structure (Table 2, Longo et al., 2006):

  • • Alcohols (1,2 butanediol; 2-butandiol, ethanol, etc.)
  • • Aldehydes (acetaldehydes, decanal, heptanal, etc.)
  • • Esters (methyl acetate, ethyl acetate, isobutyl butanoate, etc.)
  • • Fatty acids (acetate, butyrate, caproate, etc.)
  • • Ketones (acetophenone, acetone, 2,3-butanedione, etc.)
  • • Lactones (8-decalactone, y-decalactone, 8-dodecalactone, etc.)
  • • Aromatic compounds (vanillin, benzaldehyde, trimethylbenzene, etc.)
  • • Pyrazines (2,3-diethyl-5-methylpyrazine; 2-ethyl-3,5-dimethylpyrazine; etc.)

The flavoring substances are obtained with appropriate physical, enzymatic, or microbiological processes, starting from a raw material of animal or vegetable origin unprocessed or prior processed by drying, roasting and fermentation. These are natural flavors.

The appropriate physical process is the process that intentionally does not modify the chemical structure of the flavoring components, except the list of traditional food preparation processes present in Annex II Regulation UE 1334/2008.

Traditional food preparation processes are: chopping, heating, cooking, baking, frying (up to 240°C at atmospheric pressure) and pressure cooking (up to 120 °C), cutting, drying, evaporation, fermentation, grinding, infusion, microbiological process, peeling, pressing, roasting/grilling, stepping, coating, cooling, distillation/rectification, emulsification, extraction (included solvent extraction in accordance with Directive 88/344/EEC), filtration, maceration, mixing, percolation, refrigeration/freezing, squeezing.

The techniques employed for the recovery of natural flavoring are:

  • • Direct distillation in current or fractionated steam
  • • Extraction itself allows the recovery of liquid extracts and tinctures, infusions, alcoholates, and hydroalcoholic solutions
  • • Squeezing the fruit
  • • Cold maceration
  • • Digestion
  • • Infusion
  • • Decoction
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