I notice that Foster Farms brand ground turkey (in Calif, USA) is actually labeled "Ground Turkey with natural flavoring". I am curious what sort of "natural flavoring" Foster Farms has added to the turkey meat. The ingredients list is no help as it just lists the two ingredients: ground turkey and natural flavoring.

This product is not sausage. It seems to be just ordinary ground up turkey meat with no visible herbal particles or spicy looking speckles, etc. Does anybody have any idea what natural flavoring this might be, and why it would be added to ground turkey?

Would salt be considered a natural flavoring? OR do you think they might add MSG?

  • At a guess (hence not an answer) cysteine from some sources could be described as "natural". Sugar of some sort (easily called "natural") will react with the cysteine to produce a meaty flavour. You don't say wherein the world you are; if you did might be possible to look at what's permissible and likely
    – Chris H
    Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 19:35
  • As for salt, you could look up the salt content per 100g on that and a similar product that doesn't say it's got added flavouring. But both can probably have added water and may nothave the same amount
    – Chris H
    Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 19:36
  • @ChrisH, in most of the western world (at least the parts I have visited) salt is required to be listed if added, as are flavour enhancers (e.g. MSG). Natural flavours could be any sort of flavouring from a natural source, but I would suspect one to enhance the flavours, perhaps an oil from a herb or maybe something umami from say seaweed.
    – bob1
    Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 19:42
  • You could try ringing them and asking, I've found that CS reps are often are helpful if they can be.
    – bob1
    Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 19:44
  • @bob1 also most parts of the Western world I know, but we didn't know where the OP is, not even which continent, when I commented. Cysteine (especially combined with sugar) is used as a chicken flavour, which is why I suggested it, and it's cheap because it's made from waste products
    – Chris H
    Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 20:06

3 Answers 3


Ground turkey has rosemary added as a preservative.

Effect of Commercial Rosemary Oleoresin Preparations on Ground Chicken Thigh Meat Quality Packaged in a High-Oxygen Atmosphere

I have wondered the same thing. It seems ground turkey invariably has rosemary. I thought maybe turkey had some funk that was countered by rosemary. But I could never taste the rosemary. It turns out it acts as a food preservative. I imagine that having "rosemary" on the label is more palatable to consumers than some chemical preservative name.

  • Yes, you are quite right. I e-mailed Foster Farms, and they have informed me that, "The Natural Flavoring in our Ground Turkey is Rosemary extract." From what you say, it sounds like they are using a "flavoring" compound in quantities where is isn't a flavoring at all, but a preservative ... what-ever, I guess, it's still rosemary.
    – Lorel C.
    Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 1:33

FDA Says, Natural flavor:

CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21: Natural flavor

(3) The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means 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. Natural flavors include the natural essence or extractives obtained from plants listed in §§ 182.10, 182.20, 182.40, and 182.50 and part 184 of this chapter, and the substances listed in § 172.510 of this chapter.

A little more on "natural flavors":

Natural flavors are essentially anything you extract from a plant or animal source; in contrast to artificial flavors, which are chemicals originating in a lab.16 But despite being derived from a single natural source, the resulting natural flavor complex buyers eventually consume is far different from the derivative.17 In the end, the flavors “are mixtures of chemicals obtained by applying physical separation methods” to natural sources, and the result of a lengthy, complex process.18 Once ready for consumption, these natural flavor mixtures can contain as many as 250 chemically identified constituents, some of which are artificial and synthetic.19Natural flavors and the amalgamation of chemical constituents that comprise the ingredient can often be found on the back of products labeled as “Natural.” While there is much commentary online20 questioning the naturalness of these “natural flavors,”


From foster farms website-

What are the natural flavorings in Foster Farms ground chicken and turkey products? Spice extractives of rosemary.

  • Please could you add a link to the source for this claim. Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 18:40
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    Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 18:40
  • fosterfarmsandnewmansown.net/faq/quality.asp Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 19:29

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