Genetic Modification - Additives
How artificial flavours are put in food
When a young Welsh couple hit on the idea of selling hedgehog-flavour potato crisps, they were faced with the problem of what a hedgehog tasted like. Unwilling to catch and cook one themselves, they approached a group of local gypsies, for whom hedgehog roasted in clay is a traditional dish. The gypsies' description of a 'smoky, beefy' flavour was passed on to a flavourist — a chemist specialising in creating artificial flavours.
The flavourist was able to produce a flavour compound — pronounced realistic by the gypsies — which was dusted onto the hot crisps just after cooking. The crisps went on the market, and proved a successful forerunner of other unusual flavours, including pickle, cider, and yoghurt and cucumber.
What, exactly, is in the hedgehog-flavour powder is a trade secret. However, an approximation to almost any flavour on Earth can be reproduced chemically.
The flavour of any substance is determined by a complex combination of chemicals — scientists have identified at least 4300 different ones, and believe that there are many more. Hundreds, or even thousands, of these basic chemicals can be present in a single natural food. For example, 800 different compounds have been identified in coffee, combining to produce the distinctive taste.
When you drink the hot liquid, the flavour compounds stimulate nerves on your tongue and in your nose, enabling you to identify it as coffee. The tongue can only sense four basic tastes — sour, salty, bitter and sweet. The nerves in the nose are far more sensitive, and can discriminate between an infinite variety of flavours.
In theory, scientists can discover the chemical components which produce the flavour of any food by vaporising or liquefying a sample, and then analysing it in a machine called a chromatograph.
Further analysis is then done to determine the way in which the molecules are assembled, because different configurations may produce different flavours.
Using this information, the flavourist can create a synthetic substance that should be virtually identical to the natural flavour. In practice, however, it is well nigh impossible to duplicate a natural flavour exactly. This is because the mechanisms controlling taste are too subtle for a machine to predict.
- Arguments for GM Foods
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- Science of Genetic Modification
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Welcome to The History of GM Nation website. We provide you with all the background to the GM food debate that occurred at the turn of the century, which led to the government sponsored GM Nation public debate website being set up.
On this website you will find the history of that public debate, plus a guide not only to the findings of various scientific studies into the subject, but also the results of the public debate itself, all set out for you to enable you to make an informed decision for yourself.
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It is hard to know what to think with regard the issue of genetically modified foods. While there does seem to be a general consensus reached over the years of ongoing debate, in the minds of many significant doubt remains. It is vital therefore for each individual, whether it be for their own sake or that of their children, to arm themselves with all the available information that surrounds the subject before reaching a conclusion regarding what is best for them. Here at the History of GM Nation website we hope to provide you with that information. Please contact us if you have any questions.