Natural and artificial flavoring are known components of many foods, but the process on how they come to be is something of a closely guarded secret. The 60 Minutes team was given access to Givaudan, one of the biggest flavoring companies, and aired a fascinating -- and startling -- segment on the company last night.
Givaudan may be the biggest multinational company you've never heard of, explains correspondent Morley Safer. It employees 9,000 people in 45 countries. Givaudan employees admit that they aim to mimic Mother Nature with chemicals. They create flavors that don't linger too long -- that way, you'll want to go back for more. "There's a lot of secrecy," confesses one employee. The company won't reveal which brands contain Givaudan flavors.
Another employee explains that although both artificial and natural flavors are both chemical combinations, artificial flavors are largely man-made. Natural flavors come from nature, but that doesn't mean they come from what the label says. In other words, a strawberry flavor doesn't have to come from a strawberry (ditto on french fries).
Safer speaks with Dr. David Kessler, former FDA Commissioner. Kessler questions whether all these flavorings are really food. "We're living in a food carnival, these flavors are so stimulating they hijack our brain," he asserts.
Now, Givaudan is working hard to figure out how to make health and wellness taste good -- how do you reduce salt and sugar and still make a tasty product? It may be a challenge, but it sounds like the company is up to the task, for better or worse.
Watch the 60 Minutes segment below: