This article is from the Food Science FAQ, email@example.com (Paul E. J. King) with numerous contributions by others.
This term is not descriptive of food per se, but categorises a
type of catering outlet, providing, within seconds of being ordered,
counter delivery of freshly-prepared food items capable of being
eaten without cutlery. This delivery is mainly dependent on
scheduling based on accurate anticipation of fluctuating demand, a
production system and staff capable of keeping pace with it, and
sufficient counter servers to minimise queuing. Because some foods
(e.g. burgers) have lent themselves more readily to this type of
operation, the term has come to be applied to them too.
The process of chemical change in animal or plant material,
catalysed by enzymes of biological origin. It may be intended, as in
brewing of beer or vinegar, or unintended and undesirable, as in food
Food material having been subjected to fermentation
Sometimes used synonymously with "dietary fibre" including in
European and UK nutrition labelling legislation
The term 'flavour' may have reference to sensory quality of
a food as perceived by a combination of smell and taste.
Alternatively, 'flavour', for which the legally correct term is
'flavouring', is defined in the Flavouring in Food Regulations 1992
as a material used to impart odour, taste or both to a food. Under
the UK Food Labelling Regulations 1996, if the declared flavour of
a product is derived wholly or mainly from the named food, the
product name is (for example) "Strawberry X". If it does not derive
wholly or mainly from the named food, the product name is
"Strawberry Flavour X".
The UK Food Standards Committee's 2nd Report on Food Labelling
suggested that consumers do not appreciate the difference between
'flavour', which the FSC equated with artificial flavouring and
'flavoured' which they equated with the use of the real food to
The UK Food Advisory Committee (FAC), in its 1990 Report on
Labelling, decided that the difference between 'flavour' and
'flavoured' was significant and that since consumers were said to
have difficulty distinguishing between the two, 'flavour' should be
banned and replaced by 'taste'.
The supposed confusion between the two words is a misconception.
Contrary to paragraph 64 of the FAC Report, the then Food Labelling
Regulations 1984 as amended, and the current UK Food Labelling
Regulations 1996. make no provision for the use of the term
'flavoured'. As indicated above those Regulations provide for
(e.g.) 'Strawberry X' or 'Strawberry Flavour X' but no intermediate
designation such as ' strawberry flavoured X'.
The only legal use of "flavoured" is in the Cocoa and Chocolate
Products Regulations 1976. In those Regulations, cocoa products and
non-filled chocolates may be described as 'Y flavoured chocolate',
as the case may be, if the flavour is derived wholly or mainly from Y.
The term 'flavour' serves a useful and well-established
purpose. The FAC suggestion to prohibit it and substitute 'taste'
(reiterated in September 1994) is scientifically inaccurate and,
if it were to be embodied in legislation, would create instead of
In the UK Food Safety Act 1990, 'food' is defined as including
(a) drink; (b) articles and substances of no nutritional value which
are used for human consumption; (c) chewing gum and other products of
a like nature and use; and (d) articles and substances used as
ingredients in the preparation of food or anything falling within
this subsection. It does not include (a) live animals or birds, or
live fish which are not used for human consumption while they are
alive; (b) fodder or feeding stuffs for animals, birds or fish; (c)
controlled drugs within the meaning of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971;
and (d) subject to certain exceptions, medicinal products in respect
of which product licences or marketing authorisations are in force.
This definition states what 'food' includes and excludes (similarly
to the latter part of the Codex definition) but it is deficient in
failing to define what food is, i.e. does not specify "intended for
The Codex Alimentarius defines 'food' as "any substance,
whether processed, semi processed or raw, which is intended for human
consumption and includes drink, chewing gum and any substance which
has been used in the manufacture, preparation or treatment of food,
but does not include cosmetics or tobacco or substances only used
The EU Commission, in its November 2000 Proposal for a
Regulation laying down the general principles and requirements of
food law, establishing the European Food Authority, and laying down
procedures in matters of food, proposed the following definition:
'Food' (or 'foodstuff') means any substance or product, whether
processed, partially processed or unprocessed, intended to be, or
expected to be ingested by humans. It includes drink, chewing gum
and any substance intentionally incorporated into the food during
its manufacture, preparation or treatment. It includes water, without
prejudice to the requirements of Directives 80/778/EEC and 98/83/EC.
It shall not include:
(b) live animals unless they are prepared, packaged and/or
served for human consumption;
(c) plants prior to harvesting;
(d) medicinal products within the meaning of Council Directive
(e) cosmetics within the meaning of Council Directive 76/768/EEC
(f) tobacco and tobacco products within the meaning of Council
Directive 89/622/EEC 19 ;
(g) narcotic or psychotropic substances within the meaning of
the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs,
1961 and the United Nations Convention on Psychotropic
All environmental factors, practices, processes and precautions
involved in protecting food from contamination by any agency, and
preventing any organism present from multiplying to an extent that
would expose consumers to risk or result in premature spoilage or
decomposition of food.
Three separate circumstances may be defined: Restored, enriched,
and fortified foods, as described here:
the addition of nutrients to foods in order to restore the
level of those nutrients that were originally present, but have
been destroyed or lost in processing.
The addition to a food of one or more nutrients which were
already present in that food in lower than desirable amounts.
The addition to a food of significant quantities of a
nutrient that was not originally present in that food or was
present only in nutritionally insignificant amount.
Free from ....
For food to be described as 'free from X' (or by terms having a
similar import) the food, at the point of sale, must be either free from
X when tested by a standard reference method of analysis or it must
contain no more than a specified maximum of X.
Free from added ....
If a food in its original state contains X, it may be described as
'free from added X' (or by terms having a similar import) only if no X
has been introduced, directly or indirectly, via any ingredient or
during production, manufacture, processing, packaging, storage,
distribution or point of sale. MAFF Guidelines (1993) specify that 'no
added sugar' means that no sugars, or foods composed mainly of sugars,
should be added to a food or any of its ingredients; and that 'no added
salt' means that no salt or sodium compounds should be added to the food
or to any of its ingredients.
It should be noted, however, that in the instance of a food which
strictly complies with the foregoing but itself has a high sugar content
(for example date paste) the description 'no added sugar', though true,
could be held to be misleading (Section 3(2) of the Trade Descriptions
The condition of a short shelf-life perishable unprocessed food
prior to perceptible evidence of physical, chemical or microbiological
change. Fresh is normally applied to unprocessed foods e.g. fresh eggs,
fresh meat, showing that they are in their original state. It is also
used in apparently contradictory terms, e.g. fresh pasteurised cream to
distinguish it from more highly processed sterilised cream.
Fulfilling a specific physical, chemical or biological function.
All foods are functional, and to term some (as distinct from
others) as 'functional' is illogical. The term is one of the
marketing-coined names (others are 'neutraceuticals' and 'designer
foods') to categorise foods which are considered or claimed to offer
specific health benefits while avoiding the requirement to be licensed
medicines (See Marketing terms, below).