Artificial flavors are added to manufactured foods to change or augment its taste (Flavouring). Nature-identical flavorings are the chemical equivalent of the natural flavor, but instead of being extracted from the source, they are synthesized chemically. The natural flavor must first be extracted from the source to produce artificial flavors. The concentrated flavor extract is then chromatographs in either liquid or gaseous form, which provides information on the structure of the molecule so that it can be artificially replicated chemically. Many flavor compounds are in the form of esters, and several esters are often mixed to produce a particular flavor. Some common flavors are: banana - isoamyl acetate; cinnamon - ethyl cinnamate; orange - octyl acetate; pineapple - methyl butyrate; pear - isoamyl butyrate; and wintergreen - methyl salicylate.
Anything with a smell has to contain a volatile ingredient and these are usually esters (How). The sense of taste recognizes only four tastes: sweet, sour, salty and bitter, so the sense of smell is needed to differentiate between more complex tastes. The top of the nasal passages contain an area of specialized neurons which come in contact with air and have hair-like projections on their surface to increase the surface area (How Does). Odor molecules bind to these cilia and cause the perception of smell. Many artificial flavors have just one or a few dominant chemical components which give off the taste/smell signal.
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Category: Science - A
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