Business Strategies / R&D

60 Minutes Takes the Flavor Industry to Task

Nov 29, 2011

“Why do you have to make food taste so good that we overeat?” seemed to be the theme of a 60 Minutes episode on Nov. 27. Swiss flavor company Givaudan, “the largest flavoring company in the world,” was the food industry’s defender in “The Flavorists: Tweaking tastes and creating cravings.” TV personality Morley Safer exposed this diabolical “multibillion dollar industry … cloaked in secrecy.”

“As the Thanksgiving weekend comes to a close, you may feel as overstuffed as that turkey you ate,” Safer began. While the journalist tried to maintain objectivity, the general tone was the food processing industry is the cause of obesity in this country, and flavor suppliers like Givaudan are “the enabler,” Safer says, “making us addicted.”

A team from Givaudan, headed by Jim Hassel, led Safer from a California citrus grove to Hong Kong restaurants to Givaudan’s labs. While Safer seemed duly impressed by the technology involved in turning a roasted chicken into a powder, he also noted, “strawberry and vanilla flavor can come from the gland in a beaver's backside.”

Former FDA chief David Kessler had a cameo, suggesting “flavors are so stimulating, they hijack our brain.”

But Hassel fought back: “Everyone, everyone, everyone [in the food industry] is working on health and wellness. But the consumers are interesting. As much as they want to be healthy, ‘If it's not as sweet then I don't want it.’ ”

So start making bad-tasting food!

To see the segment (forgive the long URL):;contentBody