What does "natural flavors" really mean?

If you haven't realized yet, part of the Whole30 includes reading labels constantly. While searching for a snack, I had the option of a RX Bar; the label read, "No B.S." so it should be okay, right? Well, one little part of the ingredients made me think that it may not be. Natural Flavors.


Time and time again I have come across this but never really thought to look into it. I always just assumed that natural flavoring meant, well, natural. Little did I know that the natural flavoring part of your ingredients list is another way of saying, additive.

Many of the natural flavors are the oils, essence and extracts derived from other fruits and plants. But it derives from animal, egg, and dairy products as well. In general, it is a modified flavor that comes from a plant or animal. These flavors are approved as "natural" by the FDA because it derives from a natural source, but the guidelines for the chemical composition are not required to be disclosed. So if you are buying what looks to be a vegan option but includes natural flavors, unless it is labeled vegan, it's probably not.


My advice if this little fact drives you away: load up that spice rack! Don't be afraid to mix actual ingredients and try new flavors! Cooking is the essence of life!

If you're looking for Whole30 approved snacks and quick eats, always check the label. If there's whole ingredients with "natural flavors", make sure to do your research just to verify that you're good!