In the latest attack on the flavor industry, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has posted its "Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives, which specifically calls out flavor ingredients."
UPDATE: "The bottom line is that flavors are safe," notes a response posting from the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association. "Decades of research, governmental inquiries and studies conducted by other groups all confirm the safety of these ingredients. Natural and artificial flavors must conform not only to strict regulatory requirements, they must also meet the needs of the food and beverage manufacturers."
What the EWG guide lacks in supporting evidence of danger or harm (the guide includes no links to scientific publications supporting an anti-flavoring substance stance) it makes up for in unfounded hysteria.
"The truth is that when you see the word 'flavor' on a food label, you have almost no clue what chemicals may have been added to the food under the umbrella of this vague term," EWG notes. "For people who have uncommon food allergies or are on restricted diets, this can be a serious concern."
"The companies that make flavoring mixtures are often the same ones that make the fragrance chemicals in perfumes and cosmetics," EWG says. "EWG advocates full disclosure of fragrance ingredients and believes flavoring mixtures should be treated the same way."
The EWG goes further and blames the flavor industry for behavioral control: "We are also concerned that processed food makers manipulate flavors to whet people’s appetite for unhealthy foods and encourage overeating."
While EWG is "concerned," it presents no supporting evidence to back it. It goes on to encourage its readers to "Choose fresh foods [definition unspecified] rather than processed and packaged foods that contain flavoring chemicals that artificially alter smell and taste. Call on companies to disclose what chemicals they use in their flavoring mixtures. Use EWG’s Food Scores to find foods without flavoring ingredients."