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Additives such as Monosodium Glutamate - often very concentrated forms of natural products - designed to stimulate the taste buds. It is still not fully understood how this works, but is thought they work by stimulating the production of saliva.
There are many others in common use (about 4,500 flavouring compounds are available to manufacturers), with names such as 5"- nucleotides and maltol. One disodium 5"-guanylate is made from dried bonito (a type of tuna).
At the present time, flavourings don't have to be tested for safety and are only banned if they're shown to be harmful - so basic flavours, such as pepper, have never been officially tested.
Ever more strict labelling laws will soon end the looses practice of simply putting 'flavouring' on food labels - and each will have to be named. See also "Monosodium glutamate; MSG"