Welcome to FEMA’s “All About Flavors” page! Here you’ll find much helpful information about flavors and flavor ingredients. We hope you are able to explore these interesting resources tied to the history, sources, and safety of flavors.

Flavors have been safely added to the foods and beverages we enjoy for hundreds of years, and today’s flavor industry is committed to the continued safety of its ingredients. “Flavor” refers to a lot more than simply what something tastes like. Flavor is the entire range of sensations that we perceive when we eat a food or drink a beverage. Flavor encompasses a substance’s taste, smell, and any physical traits we perceive in our mouths, such as "heat" (for example, cinnamon) or "cold" (for example, spearmint).But flavor is even more than that.

Flavor is memory, too—of the perfect chocolate chip cookie, of the feeling of refreshment when drinking a soft drink on a hot day, or of a warm pumpkin pie on the holiday table. Flavor is discovery—the first time you taste a Caribbean-spiced potato chip, sharing a new tropical fruit flavor of ice cream with your children, or enjoying a new Asian-focused dish at your favorite local restaurant. And flavor is variety—a new twist on Mom's macaroni & cheese, or a new herbed mustard on a ham sandwich.

Flavors make life interesting!

Flavor Glossary of Terms

Flavor Fact

Myth vs. Fact

Flavor Pairing

You don’t have to be a flavor chemist to know that some foods go well together and others don’t. A 2015 study, Analysis of Food Pairing in Regional Cuisines of India, looked at why this happens, particularly in India, which is home to many regional cuisines. Food pairing, as described by the study, is the “compatibility of two ingredients in a recipe in terms of their shared flavor compounds.” “We quantify food pairing with the help of flavor profiles of ingredients. Flavor profile represents a set of volatile compounds that render the characteristic taste and smell to the ingredient.”

Flavor Fact
flavor safety myth vs fact graphic

Myth vs. Fact

Flavor Safety: Myth vs. Fact

November 1, 2017

We know flavors and flavor ingredients can seem a bit confusing, and consumers are curious how these materials’ safety is evaluated. We’ve compiled a short list of common misconceptions and facts about FEMA and flavor safety. Check them out below.

Click here to download the infographic

Myth: Americans must rely solely on the food industry for the safety of flavors in food and beverages

Flavor Fact
Tongue Diagram

Myth vs. Fact

The Science Behind Taste

What do we actually know about our tongue’s ability to taste flavor? As we continue to learn more about our ability to taste, researches are able to develop new terms and classifications to describe flavor.