Answer: It depends.
The artificial butter flavor is added to food to savor it. For a vegan who cannot consume butter because it is an animal product, artificial butter is a welcomed alternative. Much as this flavor offers a vegan solution to lovers of butter flavor, there are several concerns, from health concerns to matters of whether these flavors are vegan-friendly.
Is Artificial Butter Flavor Vegan?
The US Food and Drug Administration defines artificial flavor as “any substance, the function of which is to impart flavor, which is not derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof.“
Given this definition, artificial butter is vegan because it does not contain any animal source ingredient. But that is as far as it goes.
Veganism is against animal cruelty, and several studies prove that there is animal testing at the manufacturing stage of artificial butter flavor.
An example is a research by the National Toxicity Program in 2007. Therefore, the artificial butter flavor is not vegan-friendly.
Promoting healthy living is also a strong tenant of veganism. Several studies have shown that prolonged exposure to diacetyl fumes, a component of artificial butter flavor, can lead to lung disease. The artificial butter flavor is, therefore, not vegan-friendly.
Components of Artificial Butter Flavor
The artificial butter flavor contains acetoin, diacetyl, and acetyl propionyl, natural butter compounds. These compounds are what gives butter its flavor.
Artificial Butter Brands
- Happy Home Imitation Butter Flavor: it’s ideal for cornbread muffins, cookies, and cakes.
- Shanks Artificial Butter Flavor: adds a buttery flavor to cakes, pastries, and cookies.
- Wilton No-Color Butter Flavor: butter flavor for cookies and cakes.
- Sauer’s Imitation
- Vermont Sugar-Free Low-Calorie Butter Flavor Syrup
Benefits of Artificial Butter Flavor
Though artificial butter flavor has no nutritional value, it might be the closest alternative to the buttery taste of real butter. Using artificial butter flavor is relatively cheaper and is also easy to add to your food.
The flavor helps in food preservation. Unlike natural butter, the artificial butter flavor lasts for a relatively long time.
You can also enjoy the buttery flavors of food without worrying about the possibility of gaining weight since it does not contain fat.
Is Artificial Butter Flavor Harmful?
While artificial flavors undergo safety tests, some studies pose the possibility of them being harmful to humans. Studies have shown that when people inhale heated butter flavors, they can develop lung ailments.
The artificial butter flavor is also known to cause allergic reactions, including asthma. Children might also become hypersensitive to artificial butter flavor.
However, research studies on the toxicity of artificial butter flavor in humans are not yet conclusive.
Controversy Surrounding Artificial Butter Flavor
FDA classifies artificial flavors as those flavors whose sources are not natural. So, all ingredients in an artificial butter flavor are chemicals. It makes artificial butter flavor vegan at face value because it has no animal source. But, controversy arises in the area of transparency.
The FDA doesn’t require manufacturers to declare each ingredient they use in artificial flavors. Yet, manufacturers use many ingredients to create these flavors. Some of the additives in artificial butter flavor might not be vegan.
Another controversy surrounding artificial butter flavor is animal testing during its production. Due to many questions on the product’s safety, there is regular animal testing to review the impact of consuming artificial butter flavor.
Alternatives to Artificial Butter Flavor
Vegans use artificial butter flavor because natural butter is animal-based. But, artificial butter flavor has issues with both health and vegan ethics.
Following are some vegan alternatives to artificial butter flavor.
Olive oil is a good substitute for salad dressing and general cooking. Unlike artificial butter flavor, olive oil contains some nutritional value.
It is good to note that olive oil is a calorie-dense food. It would be best if you consumed it in moderation.
Avocado is a very nutritious alternative to artificial butter flavor. It adds a buttery flavor and nutrients to food without producing harmful chemicals.
This food is a healthy alternative to chemical-laden artificial flavor.
Banana has a distinct flavor that blends very well with foods that require a boost in flavor. It adds nutrients to food and eliminates the hazards of chemical toxicity.
Pumpkin puree offers nutrients, including vitamin A. It also has a nice flavor that can substitute for artificial butter flavor.
While purchasing artificial butter flavor, you should check its package label to see whether it contains other additives. If it does, try to research each of the ingredients. Avoid artificial butter flavors with high levels of artificial sweeteners and artificial colors. The rule of thumb is to avoid artificial butter flavors with too many additives.
Studies have shown when artificial butter flavor is heated, it produces harmful vapor. Choose cooking methods that will not create steam from the artificial butter flavor.
Lastly, use artificial butter flavor in moderation to avoid health issues related to processed foodstuff.