Rating: Certain people should avoid

Flavoring: soft drinks, candy, breakfast cereals, gelatin desserts, and many other foods.

Hundreds of chemicals are used to mimic natural flavors; many may be used in a single flavoring, such as for cherry soda. Most flavoring chemicals also occur in nature and are probably safe, but FDA does not review their safety, and a few have been shown to cause cancer in animals and should not be permitted. In 2018, after CSPI and other organizations petitioned FDA, the Agency banned seven synthetic carcinogenic flavors, based primarily on evidence from government-sponsored studies in animals. Flavors are used almost exclusively in junk foods. Their use indicates that the real thing (often fruit) has been left out. Companies keep the identity of artificial (and natural) flavorings a deep secret and are not required to list them on food labels. That secrecy is unfortunate, because some people may be allergic or sensitive to certain flavoring ingredients, such as sesame, or MSG or HVP, and vegetarians and others may not want to consume flavors that are derived from animals.