Types Of Flavours Or Flavouring Substances

Flavouring substances may be natural, nature-identical or artificial extracts, preparations or substances, added to food to impart, modify, or enhance the flavour of food.

July 20, 2022

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What are flavours and flavouring substances?

‘Flavour’ is one of the most important features of a food’s palatable nature. As defined by the Codex Alimentarius ‘Flavour is the sum of those characteristics of any material taken in the mouth, perceived principally by the senses of taste and smell, and also the general pain and tactile receptors in the mouth, as received and interpreted by the brain.’ On the other hand, Flavourings/ Flavouring substances may be extracts, preparations or substances, added to food to impart, modify, or enhance the flavour of food that is its taste, odour or both, and are not intended to be consumed as such.

Simply say, flavouring substances add the additional required flavour to the food product as intended by the manufacturer. The flavour formulations are made up of many different chemical ingredients grouped as, flavouring ingredients (1%) and adjuvants (99%).

Types of Flavouring substances

The Codex Alimentarius Commission has classified and defined the types of flavouring substances as Natural flavours, Nature-identical flavours and Artificial flavours in its ‘Guidelines for the use of Flavourings- 2008’. The table below explains profoundly the differences between these flavouring ingredients.


FSSAI has restricted the use of the following flavouring agents in any article of food as per the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011.

(i) Coumarin and dihydrocoumarin

(ii) Tonkabean (Dipteryl adorat)

(iii) β-asarone and cinamyl anthracilate 

(iv) Estragole 

(v) Ethyl Methyl Ketone 

(vi) Ethyl-3-Phenylglycidate 

(vii) Eugenyl methyl ether 

(viii) Methyl β napthyl Ketone 

(ix) P.Propylanisole 

(x) Saffrole and Isosaffrole 

(xi) Thujone and Isothujone α & β thujone

(xii) Diethylene Glycol and Monoethyl ether (as a solvent in flavours)

General measures on the usage of flavouring substances - How is it regulated? 

The Codex Alimentarius under its ‘Guidelines for the use of Flavourings- 2008’ has prescribed certain measures to be followed on the usage of flavouring ingredients.

  • The Flavouring substances used should be of high purity and should not be present at unsafe levels.

  • The Flavouring substances should be used only if they make a difference to the final flavour of the food product.

  • The Flavouring substances should be used under the provision of Good Manufacturing Practises, limiting their level to as low as possible.

  • The non-flavouring ingredients that are contained in the flavouring substances should also be used in limited amounts.

Labelling of Flavouring substances- How to implement it?

FSSAI under its regulations of ‘Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations (2011)’, has very clearly stated the manner in which flavouring substances should be written on the label. In case of a product has added flavouring substances, a statement should be written below the ingredient list which says- ‘CONTAINS ADDED FLAVOUR’ (also specifying the type of flavouring substance used whether Natural flavours, Nature-Identical flavours or Artificial flavours). In addition to this, the common name or class name of the flavour shall also be mentioned on the label. 

As it is mandatory for all manufacturers to follow these Labelling guidelines, it is very easy for consumers to identify Food products that contain flavours and decide depending on the type (Natural flavours/ nature-identical flavours /Artificial flavours), whether to buy a product or not. Therefore, we as consumers should have an open eye and smart lookout towards the usage of flavouring substances in food products and make our shopping list accordingly.


1. Codex Alimentarius Commission. GUIDELINES FOR THE USE OF FLAVOURINGS. CAC/GL 66-2008. 

2. Made Safe. Natural and Artificial Flavours

3. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). Food Safety and Standards (Food product Standards and Additives) Regulations, 2011. 

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Olivia Crasto (MSc in Food Processing & Preservation)

Olivia is a Learner for Life, Eco enthusiast and loves to experience nature and its beauty

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