The Truth About Natural Butter Flavoring
Most grocery store butters contain natural flavorings which sound a bit artificial, but the compounds used (diacetyl, acetoin and acetyl propionyl) are actually sourced from milk or soybeans which are considered wholly natural ingredients. The process simply isolates these chemicals.
Many home bakers and manufacturers use this ingredient to add rich buttery flavor without adding extra calories. It is usually shelf-stable and can extend the shelf life of processed foods.
Adopting a vegan lifestyle requires making dietary changes and avoiding products made with animal-derived ingredients. However, many products such as natural butter flavoring contain dairy ingredients, so people who are following a vegan diet need to be careful.
Luckily, vegan-friendly versions of natural butter flavoring are available that use solely plant-based ingredients. Using a blend of water, propylene glycol and alcohol, and other non-dairy substances, these natural butter flavorings can be used to add a rich and creamy taste to a wide range of food products without adding any additional calories or fat.
The vegan-friendly versions of natural butter flavoring also typically use plant-based oils such as soy or coconut oil. These oils provide a creamy and rich taste while also containing healthy medium-chain triglycerides and other health benefits. They are also much less expensive than butter extracts.
Natural butter flavoring is usually made with isolated compounds such as diacetyl, acetyl propionyl or acetoin that are mixed with other plant-based ingredients. Inhaling these compounds in high concentrations has caused a lung disease called popcorn lung, so manufacturers are now producing butter flavors that don’t contain them.
Whether a product is vegan-friendly or not can be a bit of a mystery because some butter flavorings are labelled with ‘May Contain Milk’. While this may not sound good, it actually is a good thing for vegans because it means the manufacturer Natural butter flavoring hasn’t tested the butter flavoring with any milk products.
Alternative Tastes and Culinary Alternatives
While butter purists will always adore real butter, it’s often not the best ingredient for some foods and baked goods. It’s expensive, has a high fat content and requires careful storage and handling, so many grocery store foods use a more affordable but less flavorful alternative. For these types of foods, natural butter flavoring can be a great choice.
The main component of butter flavoring is an isolated form of diacetyl, acetoin or acetyl propionyl. These compounds are derived from milk or soybeans and considered wholly natural ingredients. By isolating them, they are separated from other unnecessary parts of butter and can be used in a wide variety of food applications. This helps manufacturers create low-calorie, vegan, kosher and dairy free snacks that can still have a rich butter taste.
Moreover, this process is much safer than handling large batches of real butter. This is because butter flavoring doesn’t contain the protein molecules that can Natural butter flavoring cause bronchiolitis obliterans, or popcorn lung, in workers who handle it in larger quantities.
In addition, most butter flavors don’t contain any dairy allergens and can be used in various recipes. These include non-dairy cheeses, salad dressings, sauces and baked goods. They are a popular way for manufacturers to provide consumers with food that is compatible with major dietary restrictions. This is important for people with celiac disease, lactose intolerance and other health conditions.
Strict Quality Control Measures
In order for butter flavoring to qualify as “natural,” the chemicals used must be safe. Unfortunately, this does not always apply. Several studies have reported that diacetyl, a butter-flavored chemical produced during the production process of butter and many other foods, is a respiratory hazard for workers who handle large quantities during industrial manufacturing processes. In one study, four workers developed bronchiolitis obliterans (sometimes called popcorn lung) after repeated exposure to the chemical in a factory that made microwave popcorn.
The chemical, also known as 2,3-butanedione, is a respiratory irritant and a possible human carcinogen, but it does not currently have an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) permissible exposure limit. In a separate study, lab animals exposed to diacetyl demonstrated a chemical sensitization in the local lymph node assay, which is a common screening tool for allergens.
Manufacturers have since incorporated safer chemicals into their production processes, and some companies are seeking to eliminate the use of butter-flavored chemicals entirely. Fortunately, there are still plenty of natural products available on grocery store shelves that can satisfy the cravings of butter lovers.
Vegans can enjoy these options without compromising their ethical beliefs by making sure they are choosing products that meet rigorous quality standards and are free of animal ingredients. By doing their homework and making informed choices, they can feel confident that the food they are eating is both delicious and aligned with their values.
Veganism is a Personal Choice
The argument that veganism is a personal choice completely ignores the fact that the environmental degradation and destruction caused by animal agriculture affects everyone, including those who choose not to consume meat, dairy, eggs and other products. It is not acceptable to put yourself above the lives of countless animals who have been sacrificed for your convenience, but that doesn’t mean omnivores should be allowed to eat anything they want and leave the consequences to others.
Natural butter flavoring is usually a liquid product that is made by isolating specific compounds found within butter, like diacetyl and acetoin, and then combining them with water and other ingredients. It is used in many food products like microwave popcorn, oil-based spreads such as margarine and commercially produced baked goods to add rich buttery flavor. Because it is typically a shelf-stable product, it can also be used as a substitute for butter in many recipes for lower calories.
It is often made without milk, making it suitable for vegans who are concerned about using any form of dairy in their cooking. However, it is important to check ingredient listings carefully because some natural butter flavorings do contain dairy. If you are in doubt, look for the word “dairy” in the listing or use a butter extract instead to avoid any possible issues.