Frequently asked questions

What is a natural flavouring?

For the flavouring to be described as natural in the EU and UK, it must be 100% derived from natural sources. If reference is also given to the source, e.g a ‘natural lemon flavouring’, then 95% of the flavouring must be derived from lemons. The remaining 5% must also be natural, but allows manufacturers to bring out different characteristics of the flavouring to suit different products. Additional rules apply for other types of natural flavourings.

How safe are flavourings?

All flavouring substances in foods on sale in the UK, natural or man-made, have been through an evaluation process and been authorised as safe by the European Food Standards Agency and/or since 2021 the UK Food Standards Agency's Committee on Toxicology. Rules exist for the preparation of flavouring preparations, thermal process flavourings, flavour precursors, smoke flavourings and food ingredients with flavouring properties to ensure their safe use.

What is a flavour enhancer?

A flavour enhancer does not add a flavour of its own, but instead brings out the flavour of food. Salt and monosodium glutamate (MSG; E621) are examples of flavour enhancers. They are not the same as flavourings and are required to appear separately on a label. They are legally classified as an additive rather than a flavouring.

Can flavourings contain allergens?

It is possible for certain flavourings to contain allergens, particularly those derived from foods which are common allergens, such as nuts, wheat, mustard, shellfish etc. Where a flavouring does contain an allergen which is required by law to be labelled, this will be indicated on the packaging.

I am allergic to something outside the list of 14 allergens which require labelling. How do I find out if I can eat a product containing a flavouring?

For rarer allergies, please do contact the food manufacturer with details of your allergy and ask if they can check with the flavour supplier on the presence of a specific ingredient. They should be willing to do this, but will not be able to provide you with a list of ingredients.

Can flavourings alter the microbiome?

Current research does not indicate any adverse impact of flavouring consumption on the microbiome. As many flavourings contain concentrated extracts of herbs and spices, it has been suggested they may even help encourage a diverse microbiome.

Does the presence of a flavouring mean my food product is unhealthy or 'ultra-processed'?

We firmly encourage a varied diet with plenty of whole foods. However, modern lifestyles or dietary requirements and wellness products often lead to the need for some prepared or processed foods. These in themselves do not make a bad diet - balance and common sense are key! Flavourings have a beneficial role in enabling the development of foods which are lower in salt, sugar or saturated fat, making nutritional supplemental foods palatable, and allowing the creation of vegan/vegetarian products with mass appeal.

I’m looking to find a flavouring for a product I am developing. Can you help?

As a trade association, we are not in a position to recommend a particular company. Links to our members can be found on the Members page.

If you have a question that hasn’t been answered here, please feel free to contact us.