Is “Natural Flavors” an ingredient in your “healthy product”? it could be literally ANYTHING……

…..including “beaver butt”, or crushed bugs.

Sorry about the shock value but it’s true, it could be either of these, or literally anything the product manufacturer can “sneak in” to your product . Let me digress a second.

I don’t drink soda anymore, except for the incredibly great tasting Izze Soda, made from fruit juice, carbonated water, and a few other acceptable miscellaneous ingredients. However, it’s this miscellaneous ingredient called “natural flavor” on the label that has me obsessed.

I’m meticulous about the ingredients in all my food, and researching what this “natural flavor” thingie-gingie is seems to be taking me into a dark abyss…….and I have no idea how deep this rabbit hole goes.

I have been a big fan of Izze Soda (off an on) but it contains this mystery ingredient, called "natural flavors"…..

Ingredients of an Izze Product: Pure juice from apple, grape, pineapple, lemon, pomegranate, cranberry, and acerola juice concentrates, sparkling water, carrot juice (for color), blueberry juice (color), natural flavors

Izze's website (actually Pepsico, which Izze is now owned by) gives this definition: Natural Flavor: A natural flavor is a flavor that is derived from a natural substance such as a fruit or fruit juice, spice, vegetable or herb. The term natural flavor is defined by the FDA, and all of our natural flavors meet this definition.

This is what Title 21, Section 101, part 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations says:

”The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.“

…thus, their definition goes beyond "plants and herbs" to seemingly allow for just about anything 🙁

Continuing on to see if someone has cracked this Izze mystery, someone wrote in another blog reply that:

"it could be anything including "castoreum", Castoreum is the dried perineal glands of the beaver contain castoreum — a food additive usually listed as ‘natural flavoring’ in the ingredient list. This food flavoring is extracted from the castor sac scent glands, located between the anus and genitalia, of male and female adult beavers. It has been used for over 80 years in both foods and beverages as a vanilla, raspberry and strawberry flavoring. The FDA says it’s GRAS, meaning it’s “generally recognized as safe.” You won’t see this one on the food label because it’s generally listed as “natural flavoring." ”

…I'm not accusing Izze of using castoreum as its natural flavor, I have been Izze's biggest supporter, one of the few acceptable mainstream drinks I recommend for those trying to break free of the Coke and Pepsi, but still enjoy their soda,  but there is such a red flag here that literally no one seems to know what that natural flavor in Izze actually is. And I'm more afraid of what I don't know than what I know.

I sometimes go by the "exclude" theory, in that, if you can't figure out what something is, then establish what it "isn't". What it "isn't" I'm sure is not a natural miracle plant, known to science for thousands of years for curing cancer, diabetes and so forth. How do I know that?  Cause for sure, if it were that miracle plant, they would be boldly professing that ingredient.

F.Y.I., a blog is a person's mind placed on "cyber canvas", and this is how my mind thinks, be it exaggerated or realistic, but I think a little paranoia is healthy……..

Have also read that crushed bugs are used as an artificial sweetener, don't know if true, maybe don't wanna know.

In the end, for the time being I still recommend Izze soda in several places in my blog, but I had to add this disclaimer about the “natural flavors”. Personally I’m gonna hold off on drinking Izze (for the fifth time) until I find out what the hell "natural flavor" is. But, the fact that absolutely no one on can give me an answer to me is a big warning flag.

I’m pretty squeamish in some things, and if I were to find out that that natural flavor is secretions from the anus of a beaver, then I will probably have a response like Jim Carey in Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, when he realized he kissed a man, you know, bleaching out his mouth, showering with scalding hot shower, and all the rest.

……it makes me wanna “holla”, the way they try to deceive us with our food supply sometimes

~stay healthy~


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"Eat Smart: The Science of Food"


9 Responses


Thank you for an informative article.  It’s been over 20 years since I drank soda but your article sheds light on all “naturally favored products.”  My point is that when we know better we do better 🙂


Thanks for your comment. I’m out of cards to play, except making own, similar to the Izze recipe, sparkling water and juice (minus the beaver secretions of course).


It's really simple.  If it "might" be controversial, then it should be on the label by its specific name.  "Might" be controversial means ANY SUBSTANCE, because anyone, for any reason, may not want to ingest it.  To do otherwise is to INVITE suspicion, and there needen't be a conspiracy theory to understand why someone might want to hide something; because you might not like it and they might lose money.  It is really simple.  They don't really care if you drink it, as long as you buy it.  But you bought it because you thought it might be good to drink, right?  So you want to know what's in it?  Gee.


I kinda got lost in what you are trying to say here, I will have to go back and read again. But, if it is in opposition to the point I’m trying to make in my article, that’s cool.


I, too, am constantly stumped at this ingredient know vaguely as 'natural flavors'. Unfortunately for me, though, it has been a life changer. I was diagnosed with IBS and told to stay away from milk. To make a long story short, I went on a clean diet and if I don't ingest any milk products or 'natural flavors', viola! I don't have IBS. This makes me extra curious as to what this ingredient is that has made my life incredibly difficult for a long, long time. Staying away from it is trickier than avoiding clowns at a circus. It is in everything, almost literally, and most people don't give it a second glance. Thanks for blogging about it. 


Hi Edna,

I hope you IBS story is of some help to someone who runs past or Googles this page.

When you dig into the deep research, its actually kinda scary, because it “seems” Natural Flavors can be anything they want, as long as it comes from planet earth.

My problem with so many things I blog about is just what you said, these nemesis ingredients are in anything and everything……sigh 🙁

P.S. Don’t get mad if that “Clowns in a Circus” comment pops up in a future article…LOVE IT!!!!

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

~stay healthy~


Thank you foryour information. This week, I drank a few Izzy's and everytime, I had a weird feeling in my head, like it was buzzing, but not in a good way. I will discontinue drinking Izzy.


IZZE WOULD NOT elaborate on what exactly their "Natural Flavoring" is… Saying only that their ingredients are proprietary and that is the extent of what they could tell me. With that written we stopped drinking IZZE Products today.


Hey Drew,

Right on with that, it is like an absolute mystery what is going on there. My philosophy is, if it were some healthy, healing superfood, they would be boasting on it and plastering their ingredients all over the place. I’m into Taste Nirvana Coconut Water and Suja Drinks, I left Izzy behind 2 years ago.

I simply don’t like (or trust) their attitude about the whole thing………

~stay healthy~

Doug at Gaia Health Blog


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