Thread: Ask a Scientist
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Old 27.09.2011, 14:44
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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Three random questions...
How common are artificial fragrances in food and drink? I've heard that there is a company that produces the smell that is used in McDon*lds hamburgers, so that they smell and taste exactly the same all over the world, regardless of the type and quality of beef used. I've also heard rumours about eg Nespr*sso capsules, and how they are tweaked so that the coffee they produce smells exactly the same, regardless of the water quality or hardness. How about with champagne - is the smell of that also artificially tweaked? How can a company like eg M*et produce tens of millions of nonvintage bottles per year, all smelling and tasting exactly the same as each other, and also the same as bottles from previous years?
Before a long explanation, the short answer is "very common".

Of course, it all depends what you mean by "artificial"... Legally, a flavor is only artificial if the molecule does not exist in nature. So, since chemistry is cheap, there is every chance that the strawberry flavor in your yoghurt comes from a chemical factory. You can be sure that MacDonalds use whatever is cheapest. In fact you will never find a product marked "contains artificial flavor" these days.

For coffee, it would be illegal for Nestl* to add flavors of any description to their product. Of course they use "coffee extracts" to make sure that the flavor maintains the same quality.

Adding anything to champagne is illegal. And it would be a huge, probably fatal, scandal if they were caught adding flavor to their product. I don't think champagne tastes of much anyway, so it shouldn't be a problem . I'm much more interested in the bubbles, which have a major effect on the price. An R& D director of M*et told me once that they were going to start selling special glasses to encourage bubbles.
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