Flavouring Agents Examples


Food comes in several types, tastes, and textures, and we all have our preferences based on the flavors that we enjoy in a particular food. Flavors are the diverse perceptions we get from food products due to chemical interactions between our sensory systems and food items. Although most of us associate food with its taste., the flavor of the food is determined by both the senses of taste and smell. Flavoring agents or flavorants are the substances added to the food items to impart a desirable flavor or alter the preexisting one by modifying the smell and taste characteristic of the food. They can either be natural or artificially synthesized. Natural flavoring agents are natural oils and chemicals that can be utilized for adding flavor to food items without changing their chemical composition. Fruits, vegetables, spices, barks, buds, leaves, meat, fish, poultry, and dairy products are the most common sources of natural flavoring compounds. Due to the scarcity of natural sources and high processing costs, flavoring agents identical to natural flavoring agents can also be prepared artificially in labs. These compounds are known as Natural-Identical flavoring agents. Artificial flavors are the chemical food additives used in the food industry to simulate a natural flavor without using the real source ingredient of that flavor. Strawberry-flavored ice cream, for example, is made with artificial flavoring ingredients rather than real strawberries. Let’s take a look at few examples of flavoring agents.


The food that we cook in our kitchen usually comprises natural flavoring agents. Spices such as cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, and other ingredients such as garlic, ginger, lemon juice, etc., are few examples of natural flavoring agents that are used in domestic cooking. On the contrary, the food and beverage industries make use of both natural and artificial flavoring agents for the large-scale production of food items. Nonetheless, all flavors, including the intrinsic natural flavor of a particular food item, result from chemical compounds. Here are a few examples of flavoring agents or chemical compounds that enhance the palatable characteristic of food items. 

Isoamyl Acetate

banana flavor icecream

Isoamyl acetate, also known as isopentyl acetate, is an organic compound with the chemical name 3-Methylbutylacetate and the chemical formula {CH}_{3}{COO}{({CH}_{2})}_{2}{CH}{({CH}_{3})}_{2}. It is a natural chemical present in most ripe fruits and can also be prepared in labs to be used as a flavoring agent. It is an ester compound formed by Fischer esterification between isoamyl alcohol and glacial acetic acid. Isoamyl acetate has an odor similar to a ripe banana, which makes it employable as an artificial flavoring agent to give food items like sweets, ice creams, and jellies a banana flavor. Commercially, this flavoring agent is sold by the name Banana oil, a solution of Isoamyl acetate in ethanol. Moreover, in apiculture, isoamyl acetate is commonly used as a pheromone beacon to attract bees. There have been no safety concerns associated with the consumption and use of Isoamyl acetate as a flavoring agent so far. 

Ethyl Butyrate

packed juices

Ethyl Butyrate, also known as butyric ether, is an organic compound with the IUPAC name ethyl butonate and the chemical formula {CH}_{3}{CH}_{2}{CH}_{2}{COOCH}_{2}{CH}_{3}. Ethyl butyrate has a sweet fruity aroma that makes it an essential flavoring agent in fruit products such as packed juices, cakes, etc. Moreover, these odor characteristics make ethyl butyrate employable in the perfume industry. Ethyl butyrate exists naturally in small amounts in many fruits, like fig, apple, and passion fruit; however, for large-scale usage, it is synthetically produced by reacting ethanol and butyric acid.


Glutamates are one of the most widely used flavoring agents and they provide the savory flavor to a variety of food items. Chemically, glutamates are negatively charged zwitterions that are formed when salts based on glutamic acid are dissolved in water. One of the most commonly used salts of glutamic acid in the food and beverage industry is Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). Commercially, MSG is available with several trade names, including Ajinomoto, Chinese salt, etc. Although MSG is found naturally in certain food items like tomatoes or cheese, MSG used for flavor enhancement is produced synthetically by bacterial fermentation of starch, sugar beets, sugar cane, or molasses. The savory flavor of glutamates can be enjoyed in several Asian cuisines, such as soups, Ramen, Manchurian, etc. In general, there are no safety concerns associated with glutamate flavoring agents; however, they leave a strong aftertaste that may cause some people to show sensitivity to glutamate flavoring agents.


Citral, also known as lemonal, is an aldehyde compound with the chemical name 3,7-dimethyl-2,6-octadienal and formula {C}_{10}{H}_{16}{O}. More specifically, it is a pair or mixture of a diverse class of naturally occurring organic chemicals derived from isoprene called terpenoids. As the name suggests, Citral has a citrus (lemon) aroma associated with it due to which it is widely used as a flavoring agent in the manufacturing of several sour food items. The chief source of citral in the food and beverage industry is lemongrass, which contains 70-80% citral that can be distilled and isolated to be used as a flavoring agent. Nonetheless, it is advised to use citral in minute proportions, as overuse can influence several pre-existing allergies. Apart from being a flavoring agent, Citral is also used as an effective insect repellent.



Benzaldehyde is an aromatic compound with the chemical formula {C}_{6}{H}_{5}{CHO}, and it is widely used as a flavoring agent to impart almond flavor to various food items. Although it is found naturally in several food items, such as almonds, apricots, apples, and cherries, it can also be produced synthetically by reacting benzyl chloride with a copper nitrate solution in the presence of carbon dioxide. Apart from food items, benzaldehyde is also used to impart almond scent in several cosmetic products. According to the toxicological studies done on the health effects of consuming benzaldehyde, it is generally regarded as safe with an acceptable intake of 15mg/day for an average human being.

Massoia Lactone


Massoia Lactone is an alkyl lactone compound with the chemical name 6-Pentyl-5,6-dihydropyran-2-one and formula {C}_{10}{H}_{16}{O}_{2}. It is primarily found in the bark of the Massoia tree; however, there are several other natural sources such as cane sugar molasses, cured tobacco, and the essential oil of Sweet Osmanthus. Moreover, it can also be synthetically produced by the hydrogenation of 6-amyl-α-pyrone. It is widely used in the food and beverage industry as a flavoring agent that imparts coconut flavor to food products. It has a creamy texture and sweet aroma, which makes it a natural-identical flavoring agent to coconut.



Acetoin, or acetyl methyl carbinol, is a chiral organic compound with IUPAC name 3-Hydroxybutan-2-one and chemical formula {CH}_{3}{CH(OH)C(O)CH}_{3}. Acetoin is one of the chemicals that gives butter its distinct flavor. As a result, food and beverage industries commonly add acetoin along with diacetyl to the partially hydrogenated oils, which would otherwise be tasteless. It is commonly used by tobacco companies to impart caramel or butter flavors to cigarettes and E-cigarettes. Acetoin is produced by yeast during the fermentation of alcohol through a biological process. Acetoin can also be produced synthetically but due to the related health concerns, there are several restrictions on chemically synthesized acetoin to be used as a flavoring agent in the food and cosmetic industry.

Methyl anthranilate

Methyl anthranilate or MA, also known as carbomethoxyaniline, is an ester of anthranilic acid with the IUPAC name Methyl 2-aminobenzoate and chemical formula {C}_{8}{H}_{9}{NO}_{2}. It is a widely used flavoring agent with a characteristic odor of grapefruit.  Methyl anthranilate is found naturally in Concord and other Vitis labrusca grapes, as well as several other fruits, such as lemon, mandarin orange, neroli, oranges, rue oil, strawberry, tuberose, wisteria, galangal, and ylang-ylang. Moreover, in the perfume industry, methyl anthranilate is widely utilized, both as a component of many natural essential oils and as a synthetic aroma-chemical used to make Schiff’s base.



Limonene is a chemical found in citrus fruits as well as in their peels. It is a colorless liquid aliphatic hydrocarbon classed as a cyclic monoterpene with the chemical formula C10H16 and the IUPAC name 1-Methyl-4-(prop-1-en-2-yl)cyclohex-1-ene. This molecule is available in two chemical configurations that are mirror reflections of one another. D-limonene is a flavoring ingredient used in food production and some medicines to hide the bitter taste of alkaloids. The commonly encountered food items that contain limonene as a flavoring agent are chewing gum, non-alcoholic beverages, ice cream, candy, baked goods, gelatins, and puddings. Moreover, it is also used to impart lemon scent to several personal care products such as soaps, detergents, creams, lotions, and perfumes.

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