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Halal Certification for Natural & Artificial Flavors

Flavor is one of the most important elements of any food or beverage. Flavor defines the consumption experience in a powerful sensory way. The senses of taste (gustatory) and smell (olfactory) determine this mental signature that can influence the level of affinity a consumer has with your product.
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Flavors have complex formulation, production, and handling processes that adapt with the rapid pace of innovation. American Halal Foundation (AHF) certifies with companies in the flavor industry to inspire trust in their products to 1.9 Billion consumers globally.

Flavors have a unique set of critical concerns and challenges as it pertains to halal. This page should give you a brief understanding of the juncture of halal and flavors and its opportunities and challenges.

Types of Flavors

There are multiple categorizations of flavors, flavorants, and flavorings, but in this page we will discuss the following categorization in accordance Code of Federal Regulations (21CFR101.22):

  1. Natural Flavors
  2. Natural With Other Natural Flavors (WONF)
  3. Artificial Flavors
  4. Natural and Artificial (N&A) Flavors


Natural Flavors

According to the FDA:

“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.”

Natural With Other Natural Flavors (WONF)

WONF ingredients are natural flavors that are blended with other natural flavors to create a unique flavor profile. In terms of halal certification, they are similar to natural flavors, except the two components are independently evaluated for compliance with the halal standard.

Artificial Flavors

Artificial flavors impart a flavor without being derived from the natural sources listed under natural flavors. Commercially, they are produced by blending independent synthetically produced aroma chemicals that combine to give a unique flavor profile often similar to the natural flavor. In terms of halal, artificial flavors are assessed based on the composition of the aroma chemicals and the extraction process.

Natural & Artificial Flavors

Natural & artificial flavors, commonly denoted as “N&A flavors,” is a blend of natural and artificial flavors.

Flavors Applications

Determining Halal Status

As defined, several flavors may be considered halal or haram based on two critical criteria:

  1. Source of derivation
  2. Extraction/production process

The qualification of the above items is determined by the following halal standard:

  1. Flavors sourced from haram animals sources or produced with animal derivates would be considered haram (non-halal).
  2. Flavors utilizing ethanol in the extraction method with residuals above 5000 parts per million (PPM) would be considered haram (non-halal).

In essence, flavors sourced from plants would be considered halal if they have ethanol residuals below 5000PPM.

Halal Status of Products that Contain Flavors

Halal certification of flavors is critical as a product containing a flavor can become considered contaminated if the flavor used is non-halal (haram). Claiming a product is halal if it contains a haram flavor would be in violation of the FDA labelling regulations.
If all the flavors in a product are halal the product may be considered halal if the remaining ingredients or additives are halal and the production process is in accordance with international halal standards.

Value of Halal Certification

A flavor that is determined to be halal builds confidence in the company and its customers’ finished products, creating a true win-win for all stakeholders in the supply chain. Conversely, a flavor that is non-halal would be considered a contaminant. It is, therefore, critical that a company seeking to build confidence in their natural flavor ingredients obtain halal certification to ascertain compliance with the dietary requirements for 1.9 billion global consumers.

To learn more about the halal certification process, click here.

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