Why are flavourings used in foods, drinks and medicines?

Flavourings are mainly used as cosmetic additives in foods, drinks, medicines and vitamins to provide taste and aroma sensations that the basic ingredients are not able to provide on their own. The use of flavourings in processed foods and drinks is common as the only processed products they are excluded from the addition of flavourings by law are infant formulae.

How good is current legislation to restrict their use?


In early 2013, new Europe-wide regulations came into force which should ensure that all flavourings used in foods, drinks and medicines sold in the UK have been scientifically assessed as safe, and have labels that give consumers some information about the flavourings they contain. 

Stricter monitoring systems should also be in place in the UK to ensure companies follow the new regulations.  Whether consumers will be adequately protected by these new rules and how well the Governments in the UK will monitor the food supply chain, particularly of imported foods from outside the EU, is however not clear.


Where can I find out more about flavourings in food?

A Question of Taste: A review of flavourings in foods and drinks in the UK (2012)
Click the report cover to download

Flavourings is the biggest sector in the global food and additives ingredients market, yet the products themselves do not play a direct nutritional role in foods or drinks. 

This review considers how and where flavourings are currently used and the role they play in a highly technologised food industry.  A number of recommendations are made around issues of safety, responsibility towards children's health, transparency and food quality to highlight some of the areas where more information and clarity are needed for consumers. 

The report was compiled by a multi-disciplinary team of experts involved in food law, food toxicology and public health, and provides the first objective, comprehensive review of the flavourings industry in the UK

What will Action on Additives do to encourage safer use of flavourings in food and drink?

Action on Additives aims to:

  • Monitor how the UK responds to new EU legislation on flavourings in food and drink
  • Provide an easy to use resource for families which outlines how to minimise intakes of artificial flavourings
  • Provide links to recent research linking flavourings in foods to health

To find out more about Flavourings:

Practical Resources & Toolkits:
Understanding Flavourings and how to avoid them

Reports & Product Surveys:
For information on flavourings in our foods, drinks and medicines

Where else can I get information on Flavourings