Food additives are any substances used in producing, manufacturing, packing, processing, preparing, treating, packaging, transporting, or holding food. There are 3 different types of additives: intentional, incidental, and chance. 

Intentional additives are actual ingredients, and these usually must be indicated in some manner on the label. There are some cases in which the label can be misleading. Some ingredients can be lumped together rather than listed individually. There are ingredients which cannot be readily identified. Acetone-3-hydroxy-3-butanone, though it may sound formidable, is one of the characteristic flavoring elements in margarine and is generally not named. Of course, neither poisonous methanol (wood alcohol) nor acetone (paint remover) is identified as a natural component of coffee, which contains over 250 separately identifiable chemicals, many of which are considered toxic when ingested individually. 

Manufacturers have also received permission to substitute such names as “artificial smoke flavor” for “pyroligenous acid.” Incidental additives are included by the manufacturer as a food component. For example, the oil in which fish fillets are fried is an incidental additive, as are the anti-oxidants in that oil. Incidental additives often need not be listed on the label. Therefore, they present a problem for the kosher consumer. 

Chance additives, including contaminants that get into food accidentally, pesticides from produce, hormones from meat and poultry, antibiotics, and processing aids such as release agents are certainly not listed on labels. These also may present special problems for the kosher consumer. 

Thirty-two functions of additives are recognized in Federal regulations. More than two-thirds of these functions can be performed by both kosher and non-kosher additives. Care is required, therefore– the label can hide as much as it reveals. 



1. Anti-caking agents and free-flow agents: Substances added to finely powdered or crystalline food products to prevent caking, lumping, or agglomeration. 

2. Anti-microbial agents: Substances used to preserve food by preventing growth of microorganisms and subsequent spoilage, including fungistats, mold and rot inhibitors, and the effects listed by the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council under “preservatives”. 

3. Anti-oxidants: Substances used to preserve food by retarding deterioration, rancidity, or discoloration due to oxidation. 

4. Colors and coloring adjuncts: Substances used to impart, preserve, or enhance the color or shading of a food, including color stabilizers, color fixatives, color-retention agents, etc. 

5. Curing and pickling agents: Substances imparting a unique flavor and/or color to a food, usually producing an increase in shelflife stability. 

6. Dough strengtheners: Substances used to modify starch and gluten, thereby producing a more stable dough, including the applicable effects listed by the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council under “dough conditioners.” 

7. Drying agents: Substances with moisture-absorbing ability, used to maintain an environment of low moisture. 

8. Emulsifiers and emulsifier salts: Substances that modify surface tension in the component phase of an emulsion to establish a uniform dispersion or emulsion. 

9. Enzymes: Enzymes used to improve food processing and the quality of the finished food. 

10. Firming agents: Substances added to precipitate residual pectin thus strengthening the supporting tissue and preventing its collapse during processing. 

11. Flavor enhancers: Substances added to supplement, enhance, or modify the original taste and/or aroma of a food, without imparting a characteristic taste or aroma of its own. 

12. Flavoring agents and adjuvants: Substances added to impart or help impart a taste or aroma in food. 

13. Flour-treating agents: Substances added to milled flour, at the mill, to improve its color and/or baking qualities, including bleaching and maturing agents. 

14. Formulation aids: Substances used to promote or produce a desired physical state or texture in food, including carriers, binders, fillers, plasticizers, film-formers, and tableting aids. 

15. Fumigants: Volatile substances used for controlling insects or pests. 

16. Humecants: Hydroscopic substances incorporated in food to promote retention of moisture, including moisture-retention agents and anti-dusting agents. 

17. Leavening agents: Substances used to produce or stimulate production of carbon dioxide in baked goods to impart a light texture, including yeast, yeast foods, and calcium salts listed by the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council under “dough conditioners”. 

18. Lubricants and release agents: Substances added to food contact surfaces and to food to prevent ingredients and finished products from sticking to them. 

19. Non-nutritive sweeteners: Substances having less than 2% of the caloric value of sucrose per equivalent unit of sweetening capacity. 

20. Nutrient supplements: Substances necessary for the body’s nutritional and metabolic processes. 

21. Nutritive sweeteners: Substances having greater than 2% of the caloric value of sucrose per equivalent unit of sweetening capacity. 

22. Oxidizing and reducing agents: Substances that chemically oxidize or reduce another food ingredient, thereby producing a more stable product, including the applicable effect listed by the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council under “dough conditioners.” 

23. pH Control agents: Substances added to change or maintain active acidity or basicity, including buffers, acids, alkalies, and neutralizing agents. 

24. Processing aids: Substances used as manufacturing aids to enhance the appeal or utility of a food or food component, including clarifying agents, clouding agents, catalysts, flocculents, filter aids, and crystallization inhibitors.

25. Propellants, seating agents, and gases: Gases used to supply force to expel a product or used to reduce the amount of oxygen in contact with the food packaging. 

26. Sequestrants: Substances that combine with polyvalent metalions to form a soluble metal complex, to improve the quality and stability of products. 

27. Solvents and vehicles: substances used to extract or dissolve another substance. 

28. Stabilizers and thickeners: Substances used to produce viscous solutions or dispersions, to impart body, improve consistency, or stabilize emulsions, including suspending and bodying agents, setting agents, jellying agents, bulking agents, etc. 

29. Surface-active agents: Substances used to modify surface properties of liquid food components for a variety of effects, other than emulsifiers, but including solubilizing agents, dispersants, detergents, wetting agents, rehydration enhancers, whipping agents, foaming agents, and defoaming agents. 

30. Surface-finishing agents: Substances used to increase palatability, preserve gloss, and inhibit discoloration of foods, including glazes, polishes, waxes, and protective coatings. 

31. Synergists: Substances used to act or react with another food ingredient to produce a total effect different from or greater than the sum of the effects produced by the individual ingredients. 

32. Texturizers: Substances that affect the appearance or feel of the food. 

SOURCE: Federal Register, September 23, 1974, pp. 34173-34176.

Ingredients and their uses

Acetic Acid – is found in plant juices, milk, oil, petroleum and sometimes muscles. It is the final product of many aerobic fermentations. When it is from petroleum, it is kosher, pareve with supervision.

Agar Agar – Source: seaweed. Use: a substitute for gelatin (cream and in confectionery items). Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Albumin – Sources: blood (serum albumin), milk (dairy), eggs. Use: Coagulant and stiffener in baked goods. Requires supervision.

Alginates – Source: seaweed. Forms: calcium alginate, alginic acid, sodium alginate, propylene glycol aginate. Uses: thickening and stabilizing agent in pastry, jelly, ice cream, cheese, candy, yogurt, canned frosting, whipped cream, and beer. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Alginic Acid – See Alginates.

Alpha Amylase – Source: hog pancreas. Use: in flour to break down any starches. Not Kosher.

Alum Aluminum Sulfate – Source: earth. Also known as cake alum or patent alum. Use: clarifying oils and fats. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Ambergris – Source: whale intestines. Use: flavoring (also used in perfume). Not Kosher. 

Anise – Source: fruit of an herb (in the parsley family). Use: flavoring foods and beverages. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Argol – Source: sediment in wine casks during fermentation and storage. Use: in the manufacture of tartaric acid and vinegar from malt. See also Cream of tartar and tartaric acid. 

Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) – Source: synthetic or corn. Use: nutrient. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Ascorbyl Palmitate -Source: synthetic and palm oil. Use: preservative. Kosher, pareve without supervision.

Benzoic Acid – Source: synthetic. Use: preservative. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

BHA (Butylated hydroxanisole)– Source: synthetic. Use: as an antioxidant in cereals, stabilizers, shortenings, and potato flakes and granules. Kosher, pareve without supervision when found in corn oil. 

BHT (Butylated hydroxytoluene)– Source: synthetic. Use: as an antioxidant in beverages, desserts, cereals, glazed fruits, dry mixes for beverages, and potato flakes and granules. Kosher, pareve without supervision when found in corn oil

Calcium Alginate – see Alginates. 

Calcium Carbonate – Source: limestone. Use: tooth powder and in removing acidity of wine. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Calcium Chloride – Source: synthetic. Use: in canned goods and in cottage and cheddar cheeses as a preservative. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Calcium Citrate – See Citric Acid. 

Calcium Disodium (EDTA) – Source: synthetic. Use: flavor retention in canned soda and canned white potatoes; as a preservative in dressings, egg products, oleomargarine, potato salad, lima beans, mushrooms, pecan pie filling, and spreads. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Calcium Propionate – Source: synthetic. Use: preservative. Kosher, supervision preferred. 

Calcium Stearate – Source: a compound of calcium and stearic acid. (IMPORTANT: see Stearic Acid) Use: anti-caking ingredient in some spices (especially garlic salt and onion salt) and extensively in tablets. Requires supervision.

Calcium Sorbate – Source: synthetic. Use: preservative. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Calcium Stearol Lactylate – Source: milk or soybeans. Use: instant mashed potatoes. Requires supervision. 

Calcium Stearoyl Lactylate – Source: chemical reaction of stearic acid and lactic acid. Use: as a dough conditioner, whipping agent and as a conditioner in dehydrated potatoes. Requires supervision. 

Caprylic Acid – Sources: palm oil, coconut oil. Use: preservative and flavoring. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Carbon Black – Source: synthetic. Use: black coloring in confectionery. Requires supervision.

Carmine (Cochineal) – Source: insect. A crimson pigment derived from a Mexican species of scale insert (coccus cacti) Use: coloring in red apple sauce, fruit cocktail, confections, baked goods, meats, and spices. Not kosher

Carrageenan – Sources: seaweed and Irish moss. Use: as a substitute for gelatin (an emulsifier, stabilizer, and food thickener). Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Caramel – Source: sugar or glucose. Use: coloring foods, beverages, and confectionery items. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Casein – Source: milk, hence dairy. Uses: stabilizer for confectionery, texturizer for ice cream and sherbets, or as a replacement for egg albumin. Because it is precipitated by acid or by animal or vegetable enzymes,requires supervision. 

Castoreum – Source: Beaver Glands. Not Kosher.

Catalase – Source: cow liver. Use: coagulant. Requires supervision. 

Cholic Acid – Source: animal bile. Use: emulsifier in dried egg whites. Requires supervision.

Choline Bitartrate – Source: animal tissue. Use: nutrient (B-complex vitamin). Requires supervision.

Citric Acid – Sources: fruits and vegetables, molasses and grain. Use: antioxidant, sugar solubilizing in ice cream and sherbet, fruit juice drinks, and canned and jarred produts, including jelly, cheese, candy, carbonated beverages, instant potatoes, wheat, chips, potato sticks, wine. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Civet, Absolute – Source: cats. Use: flavoring for beverages, ice cream, ices, candy, baked goods and chewing gum. Not Kosher. 

Cocoa Butter – Source: cocoa bean. Use: chocolate coatings. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Coconut Oil – Source: coconut. Use: in the manufacture of edible fats, chocolate, and candies; in baking in place of lard. Requires supervision (see Oil). 

Confectionery Glaze – See Resinous Glaze and Shellac. 

Corn Starch -Source: Corn. Kosher parve without supervision.

Cream of Tartar (Tartaric Acid) – Source: argol, the stony sediment of wine casks. Once the liquid residue has been removed from the argols by aging one year and drying, the argols are permissible. Use: in a variety of confections and in the preparation of baked goods. 

Cysteine. L form – Source: an Amino Acid, human and horse, or synthetic (sometimes from deceased women). Use: nutrient in bakery products. 

Dextrin – Source: starch. Use: prevents caking of sugar in candy, encapsulates flavor oils in powdered mixes, thickener. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Dextrose (corn syrup) – Source: starch. Use: sweetener, coloring agent in beverages, ice cream, candy and baked goods. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Dilauryl Thiodiproprionate – Source: synthetic. Use: preservative. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Dough Conditioners – Source: calcium stearoyl-2-Lactylate, or animal fat. Use: to improve the texture of bread. Often it will contain mono and diglycerides. Requires supervision.

Emulsifiers – Source: fats (animal or vegetable, synthetic.) Use: binding oils and water, thickening, a preservative in baked goods, reducing ice crystals and air bubbles in ice cream. Requires supervision. 

Erythrobic Acid – Source: synthetic. Use: preservative. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Eschalots (shallot) – Sources: an onion-like plant. Bulbs used like garlic for flavoring. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Ethyl Vanillin – Source: synthetic, bark of spruce tree, or wine alcohol. Use: as a flavor instead of vanilla or to fortify it. Kosher, requires supervision.

Fats – Source: animal or vegetable. Substances that are solid at room temperature are fats, those that are liquid at room temperature are oils. Requires supervision.

Fatty Acids – Source: animal or vegetable fats. Use: emulsifiers, binders, lubricants. Requires supervision.

Filberts – A type of hazelnut, when raw or dry roasted Kosher, pareve without supervision.

Glucose – Sources: fruits and other plants such as potatoes and corn (see Dextrose). Use: sweetener, coloring agent. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Glyceride – see Mono- and Diglycerides. 

Glycine – Source: gelatin, animal or vegetable oil. Sometimes used in cereals. Also as a flavor enhancer. Requires supervision.

Glycerol Monostearate – Glycerol monostearate may be of animal origin. Requires supervision.

Glycerine – Sources: beef fat, petroleum, or vegetable. Use: as a solvent or humectant (maintains the desired level of moisture). Requires supervision.

Grape Products – see Wine page 197. 

Gum Arabic, Gum Acacia – Source: trees. Use: thickening agent, emulsifier, stabilizer. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Gum Base – Sources: trees (chicle, natural rubber, etc.), synthetic butyl rubber, paraffin, polyethylene, vinyl, resin, glycerin, glycerol monostearate. Use: in the manufacture of chewing gums.Requires supervision

Gum Guaiac – Source: trees. Use: antioxidant. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Guar Gum – Source: plants. Use: extender for pectin, stabilizer and thickener for spreads, syrups, sauces, salad dressing and licorice. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Gum Tragacanth – Source: shrubs. Use: thickening agent. Herb derived from green leaves or herbaceous part of the plant. Kosher, pareve without supervision.

Invert Sugar (Inversol nulomoline colorose)- Source: cane sugar. Use: sweetener. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Invertase (invertin) – Source: yeast. Use: preparation of invert sugar from sucrose. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Lactalbumin – see Albumin. 

Lactic Acid – Sources: molasses, corn starch, glucose, molasses. Use: preservative, flavoring. (Lactic acid can also be produced from whey, in which case it is dairy, but its use is restricted to ice cream and cream cheese.). Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Lactose (milk sugar) – Source: whey. Use: sweetener, humectant, and nutrient. Kosher, dairy without supervision.

Lauric Fats – Source: coconut, palm oil. Use: with or instead of cocoa butter. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Lecithin – Source: soybeans, corn oil. Use: emulsifier and preservative, especially in chocolate. Kosher, pareve without supervision.

Lipids – Source: animal or vegetable fat. Use: shortening, flavoring, thickener. Requires supervision.

Lysine, L and DL Forms – Sources: casein, fibrin, blood. Usually synthesized. Supervision recommended. 

Magnesium Stearate – Source: stearic acid. From tallow, vegetable oils or synthetic. Use: anti-caking agent. Requires supervision.

Malt Syrup – Source: malt and barley. Use: emulsifier and starch dissolving. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Mannitol – Source: fungi. Use:sweetener. Kosher, pareve without supervision.

Methylparaben – Source: synthetic. Use: preservative. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Methyl P Hydroxy Benzoate – see Methylparaben.

Mono- and Diglycerides – Source: animal and vegetable. Use: stabilizer, emulsifier, softener, preservative. Most are animal products. Mono- and diglycerides do not necessarily have to be listed in the ingredients. Requires supervision. 

Monosodium Glutamate – Source: sugar, plants, beets and corn. Use: flavor enhancer. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Musk – Source: deer glands, synthetic. Use: in flavorings, for beverages, ice cream, candy, baked goods, and chewing gum. Now usually it is produced synthetically.

Natural Fruit Flavors – Concentrated under vacuum or freeze dried. Concentrated fruit pulp that is used in confectionery usually requires fortification with some synthetic flavor. Can contain grape juice, as well as many other non-kosher substances. Requires supervision.

Oil of Lemon – Source: lemon peel. Kosher, parve, without supervision.

Oil of Rose – Source: distilled from fresh rose petals. Comes mostly from bulgarian damask rose. Kosher, parve without supervision. 

Oleic Acid – Source: fats and oils (animal or vegetable). Use: defoaming, flavoring. Requires supervision. 

Oil of Caraway – Source: seeds of Carum Carui. Grown in Holland and Central and Southern Europe. Flavoring for Chocolate and Coatings. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Oil of Cardamon (grains of paradise) – Source: Alleppy Cardamon, trees from India.. Use: enhance the flavor of ground coffee, butter, chocolate, liquor, spice and vanilla flavoring. Kosher, parve without supervision. 

Oil of Cassia (Cassia Bark) – Source: leaves and Twigs of the chinese cinnamon – Use: for cocoa flavor in biscuits, cakes, ice cream and beverages. Kosher, parve without supervision. 

Oil of Celery – Source: celery plant. It comes primarily from France. Use: usually as flavoring for cocoa, chocolate, and other confections. Kosher, parve without supervision. 

Oil of Cinnamon – Source: under the bark of the Cinnamonum Zeylanicum tree. Found in Seychelles and Ceylon. Use: to enhance fruit flavorings. Kosher, parve without supervision. 

Oil of Peppermint – Source: dried plant leaves. Use: flavoring. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Oxysterins – Source: Glycerides, stearic acid. Use: prevents oil from clouding. Requires supervision.

Ox Bile – Source: ox bile. Use: preservative and emulsifier in dried egg whites. Requires supervision.

Ox Gall – see Ox Bile. 

Peanut Oil – Source: oil prepared from peanuts. Kosher, requires supervision. 

Pectin – Source: roots, stems and fruits of plants. Use: to thicken jellies. Kosher, pareve without supervision.

Pepper Cream – Source: herb. Use: spice. Requires di-glycerides or other emulsifiers to mix. Kosher, pareve, requires supervision. 

Pepsin – Source: enzyme, usually extracted from hog stomachs, but can be synthetic. Use: coagulant in cheese. Can be produced from kosher animals. Requires supervision. 

Polyglycerol Esters of Fatty Acids – Source: fats and oils, animal or vegetable. Requires supervision. 

Polysorbate 60, 65, 80 – Source: stearic acid (also called Tween). Use: emulsifiers, especially in “non-dairy” products. Require supervision. 

Potassium Bi sulfite – Source: synthetic. Use: preservative. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Potassium Caseinate – Source: milk. Use: stabilizer and texturizer.Requires supervision. 

Potassium Metabisulfite – Source: synthetic. Use: preservative. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Potassium Sorbate – Source: berries or synthetic. Use: preservative. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Propionic Acid – Source: synthetic or may be made from cheese. Use: mold inhibitor, preservative. Kosher, requires supervision.

Propyl Gallate – Source: synthetic or from nuts produced by insects. Use: preservative. 

Propylene Glycol (Alginate) – Source: synthetic. Use: emulsifier, stabilizer, solvent. Kosher, pareve, requires supervision. 

Propylparaben – Source: synthetic. Use: preservative, Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Release Agents – Source: oils, mineral oil, mono-glycerides or synthetic. Use: keeps heated foods from sticking to equipment, utensils, and packaging. These need not be listed in the ingredients. Requires supervision.

Resinous Glaze – Source: insect secretion. Use: coating candies and pills. While there are authorities who permit these glazes on the grounds that they are non-edible, there are other authorities who forbid them. 

Rennet – Source: animal enzymes. Derived from the lining membrane of the stomach of suckling calves. Use: coagulant and curdling agent especially in cheese and other dairy products. A vegetable enzyme similar to rennet is available as a substitute, but even if it is used, supervision is required. Hard cheese made by gentiles without constant supervision, even if made with completely kosher ingredients, is not kosher. (see cheese article) Requires supervision. 

Rennin – see Rennet. 

Serum Albumin – Source: blood. See Albumin. Not Kosher

Shellac – Source: insect secretion. Use: in glaze for confectionery products and in chocolate panning. See Resinous Glazes. 

Shortenings – Source: oil. Use: to make baked goods light and flaky. Factories often make both animal and vegetable shortenings on the same equipment. Requires supervision.

Sodium Alginate – Source: seaweed or kelp. Use: as a stabilizer. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Sodium Ascorbate – Source: synthetic. Use: preservative. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Sodium Benzoate – Source: synthetic origin. Use: preservative. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Sodium Bisulfite – Source: synthetic. Use: preservative. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Sodium Caseinate – Source: milk and cheese. Use: texturizer in “non-dairy” creamers and instant mashed potatoes. Kosher, dairy – requires supervision. 

Sodium Citrate – Source: synthetic. Use: emulsifier and buffer in processed produce. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate – Source: synthetic. Use: detergent, whipping agent, an emulsifier (in egg products) and surfactant (in beverages). Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Sodium Meta Bisulfate – Source: synthetic. Use: preservative. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Sodium Propionate – Source: synthetic origin or rarely it is made from cheese. Use: mold preventative. Kosher, supervision preferred.

Sodium Nitrite – Source: synthetic. Use: preservative. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Sodium Sorbate – Source: synthetic or from corn. Use: preservative. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Sodium Sulfite – Source: synthetic. Use: preservative. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Softeners – Sources: animal or vegetable. Use: in chewing gum. Requires supervision.

Sorbic Acid – Sources: berries, corn or synthetic. Use: mold inhibitor. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Sorbitan Monostearate – Source: Stearic acid. Use: emulsifier, defoamer, flavor disperser. Requires supervision.

Span – see Polysorbate.

Spearmint Oil – Source: the herb mentha viriais. Use: primarily as flavoring in chewing gum. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Sperm oil – Source: whale. Use: release agent and lubricant in baking pans. Not kosher. 

Spices – Source: dried vegetable product derived from any part of the plant, whether root, stem, bark, fruit, bud or seed. Kosher, without supervision 

Stannous Chloride – Source:synthetic. Use: preservative. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Stearic Acid – Source: animal or vegetable oil. Use: in butter and vanilla flavoring, Softener in chewing gum. Requires supervision.

Stearyl Lactylic Acid – Source: fats and oils. Use: emulsifier. Requires supervision. (Kosher forms are often dairy.) 

Sulfur Dioxide – Source: synthetic gas Use: preservative. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Tartaric Acid – see Cream of Tartar. 

Thiodipropionic Acid – Source:synthetic. Use: preservative, or from cheese. Kosher, requires supervision. 

Tocopherols – Source: synthetic, or soybeans. Use: preservative, nutrient (Vitamin E). Kosher pareve without supervision. 

Tragacanth – see Gum Tragacanth. 

Tricalcium Phosphate – Source: synthetic. Use: anti-caking agent, bleaching agent. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Turmeric – Source: herb. Use: spice. As a powder: (Often used in its oleo resin form for use in pickling brine and mustard with glycearides added.) kosher, requires supervision. 

Tween and Span – see Polysorbate. 

Vanilla – Source: bean. Use: flavoring, it may be processed with glycerine. Requires supervision.

Vanillin – Source: bark of spruce tree. Use: flavoring. Kosher, pareve without supervision. 

Vegetable Oil – see Oil. 

Vegetable Shortening – see Shortening. 

Vegetable Gums – Use: substitute for gelatin in desserts and candies. Kosher, pareve without supervision. Also see gum. 

Whey – Source: milk, hence dairy. Use: Binder and flavoring agent. 

Since it is obtained in the manufacture of cheese. Requires supervision.


The F.D.A. definition of flavors is as follows: Natural flavor (or natural flavoring) is the essential oil, oleonesic, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf, or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional. 

Artificial flavor (or artificial flavoring) is any substance, the function of which is to impart flavor which is not derived from the sources indicated above. 

This definition makes it obvious that the kosher consumer is faced with the two ubiquitous kashrus problems concerning flavorings: source and process. 

“Natural” flavor by the above definition includes derivatives of meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products. Every one of these “natural” flavor sources requires supervision. The derivative flavor, therefore, also requires supervision. The definition allows afrold (from the sassafras root) to be called “natural,” although, in fact, it has been banned by the F.D.A (1960) as a cause of liver cancer. Coumarin, a liver poison banned in 1954, qualifies as “natural.” We are now even told there is such a thing as “natural” margarine (derived from polyester cow’s milk?)! 

If this label “natural” were not confusing enough, it is possible for pure fresh-squeezed lime juice to be labeled “artificial flavor” (if it is used to enhance the flavor of a lemon product). Consequently, “artificial flavor” does not mean “laboratory produced.” 

Unfortunately for the kosher consumer, the F.D.A. labeling requirements do not coincide with Jewish law. Labels cannot be relied upon for kashrus information. 

Of the processes mentioned in the F.D.A. definition- hydrolysis, distillation, roasting, heating, enzymolysis, and fermentation- the last four can conceivably be the sources of kashrus problems. Peanuts, for example, may be “roasted” in oil. Heating may be done with equipment and utensils which have been used for non-kosher processing. The enzymes for enzymolysis can be derived from microorganisms of plants or animals. Therefore, the processes, too, must be under supervision. 

A list of commonly used natural flavorings reveals many items which are inherently not kosher: 

AMBERGRIS – Source: sperm whale intestines. Use: berry, fruit, rum, spice, and vanilla flavoring for beverages, ice cream, ices, candy, and baked goods. Not Kosher.

CIVET, ABSOLUTE – Source: secretion from receptacle between the anus and genitals of cats. Use: raspberry, butter, caramel, grape, and rum flavorings in beverages, ice cream, ices, candy, baked good, gelatin desserts, and chewing gum. Not Kosher

Castoreum – Beaver glands extract used as a flavoring. Not Kosher. 

COGNAC OIL (Wine Yeast Oil) obtained from the distillation of wine -Use: berry, cherry, grape, brandy, and rum flavorings for beverages, ice cream, ices, candy, baked goods, gelatin desserts, condiments, and liquors. Requires supervision. 

MUSK – Source: deer glands. Use: fruit, cherry, maple, mint, nut, black walnut, pecan, spice, vanilla, molasses flavorings in beverages, ice cream, ices, candy, baked goods, gelatin desserts, pudding, chewing gum, and syrups. Not Kosher.

Oleic Acid – Source: animal or vegetable fats and oils. Use: butter, cheese, ice cream, ices, candy, baked goods, condiments, and spice flavorings in beverages. Requires supervision

One rather common ingredient used in flavorings can be derived from cream. The product in which it appears synthesized through fermentation would then be classified as dairy. 

ACETOIN (Acetyl Methyl Carbinol). Sources: fermentation of cream. Use: flavoring agent in raspberry, strawberry, butter, butterscotch, caramel, coconut, coffee, fruit, liquor, rum, nut, walnut, vanilla, cream soda, cheese flavorings for beverages, ice cream, ices, candy, baked goods, margarine, gelatin desserts, cottage cheese, and shortenings. May be dairy. Requires supervision.

Following is a clear example of how one can be misled by relying on the label of product containing natural or artifical food flavoring.


Natural Flavor (or natural flavoring) – the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf, or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.

Artificial Flavor (or artificial flavoring) – any substance, the function of which is to impart flavor which is not derived from the sources indicated above.

F.D.A. definition

Suppose, though, that there were not enough plums to flavor the product by themselves, or that a food processor wanted to enhance the flavor – and why not? Plums vary in sweetness and flavor, and if you, the customer, are familiar with a product and like it, you will want it to be the same each and every time you buy it; therefore additional flavor might be added. The flavor would be either natural, stemming from plums themselves, or artificial. If natural flavor is added, the label would read, “Plum Flavored Pudding” or “Natural Plum Flavored Pudding.” Notice in the latter that the words natural and flavored are both used. Those are the key words. There is flavor added, and it is natural flavor.

Now then, if natural flavor other than plum is present, the label would read, “Plum Flavored Pudding, with Other Natural Flavor.” Note that specific reference is made to “other natural flavor”. You can be sure it is a natural flavor, but one other than plum flavor.

Flavoring Food Name

Vanilla Extract Vanilla Pudding Vanilla Extract and other natural flavor(s) Vanilla Pudding, with other Natural Flavor Natural flavoring other than vanilla, or any artificial vanilla flavor (presence of any artificial flavor that simulates the flavor indicated on the carton automatically requires designation as “artificial”)

Artificially Flavored Vanilla Pudding or Vanilla Pudding, Artificially Flavored

When characterizing ingredients are expected, it will read as follows:

Plums (enough to characterize the food)

Plum Pudding

Plums (not enough to characterize the food independently) and

(1) Natural plum flavor Plum Flavored Pudding, or Natural Plum Flavored Pudding

(2) Natural flavors other than plum Plum Flavored Pudding, with Other Natural Flavor or Natural Plum Flavored Pudding, with Other Natural Flavor