No accounting for these tastes: Artificial flavors a mystery

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. regulators are giving food companies two years to remove six artificial flavors from their products, even though they say the ingredients are safe in the trace amounts used.

The move highlights tension between consumer advocates, who want to know more about what exactly is in our food, and the food industry, which does not divulge the specific contents of ingredients listed only as “natural flavor” or “artificial flavor” on packages.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s decision came after a lawsuit by consumer groups that cited a 60-year-old regulation that prohibits additives shown to have caused cancer in animals, even if tested at doses far higher than what a person would consume.

The flavor industry group says the rule is outdated.

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