“Natural Flavors”: Elmhurst® Explains

Dear Elmhurst: What exactly is in your “natural flavors”?

This is among our most common questions. We understand why. “Natural flavors” may seem as the one obscure ingredient in our short list. Being simpler and better requires that we be transparent, so let’s do a quick Q&A to help you understand natural flavors, why we use them, what this means for you – and the alternatives.

Are natural flavors plant-based?

While the FDA standard provides for natural flavors derived from either plant or animal sources, Elmhurst’s natural flavors are entirely plant-based. This is certified by our vegan label.

What is a natural flavor?

Essentially, a natural flavor is a substance derived from the matter of a living thing (in our case, plants) with the purpose of adding flavor, rather than nutrition, to a food or beverage.1

Why don’t you tell us specifically what these natural flavors are?

Natural flavors are often propriety blends. They’re unique to a product; part of the distinct satisfaction it brings, and typically used in very small quantities. Therefore, the FDA allows for “natural flavors” as an ingredient name inasmuch as the components are deemed safe.

Are natural flavors commonly used?

Yes, according to an Environmental Working Group study of 80,000 food products, only salt, water, and sugar appear more frequently on food labels.2 Many other plant milk brands use natural flavors.

How are natural flavors different from artificial flavors?

Natural flavors are drawn directly from natural sources, such as a plant or any of its byproducts. Artificial flavors are synthetically developed to mimic natural flavors.

Are your natural flavors safe?

Yes, all of our natural flavors are approved by the FDA and American Vegan Association, and are Non-GMO project verified.

Do your natural flavors include MSG?

No, they do not.

What if I still don’t want natural flavors?

You certainly don’t have to switch from Elmhurst. Our Unsweetened (almond, walnut, cashew, and hazelnut) and Barista Editions (oat, brown rice, and almond) are free of natural flavors.

We hope this helps you to understand natural flavors and feel secure that they are both vegan and safe. If you prefer to avoid them, we understand. There are different tiers of “simple” – and an Elmhurst option for each of them. We are happy to be able to offer you our two-ingredient, additive-free Unsweetened line, available in almond, cashew, hazelnut, and walnut.

1 FDA, 21 CFR 101.22

2 Environmental Working Group, 2018