It’s called “castoreum,” and it’s emitted from the castor sacs within the animal’s anus. For a beaver, this slimy brown substance is used to mark its territory, but for us humans, it’s used as an additive that is often labeled as “natural flavoring” in the foods we eat – vanilla, strawberry and raspberry being the most common.
Castoreum is a product of the trapping industry. When beavers are skinned for their fur, these glands are taken out, and are sold after being smoked or sun-dried to prevent putrefaction.
Why is castoreum used? The most notable characteristic (after being processed) has to be the smell of castoreum. Instead of smelling horrible, like most people would expect from an anal produced secretion, it has a pleasant scent, which supposedly makes it a perfect candidate for food flavoring and other products.
The question that many people put forth would have to be “who in their right mind actually made this odd discovery?” Reminds me of the common question “who was the first person to eat raw oysters?”
Another industry that uses castoreum is the fragrance world. For decades, perfume manufactures have used it to make various types of fragrances. These anal secretions are said to contain around 24 different molecules, many of which act as natural pheromones to stimulate our senses. From perfumes to air fresheners, beaver castor sacs are quite versatile within the fragrance industry.
Is it natural?
Sure it’s natural, but does “being natural” make it right to use or consume?
Many disgusting substances are considered “natural,” yet eating them may not be the best idea.
The act of labeling something so vulgar and disgusting as “natural flavoring,” should be illegal in many people’s eyes, but the FDA views it all in a different light.
Having the anal secretions from a beaver take the place of a strawberry in something like strawberry ice cream hardly seems like an efficient process. Why go through the process of harvesting “anal secretions” when a strawberry is much easier to pick?
It hardly seems like a better option…
The food industry is a tricky business to figure out, and it will continue to boggle the minds of many on issues exactly like this. Much like with other additives that have raised concern over the years (aspartame, high fructose corn syrup and food colorings), castoreum is proving to be just as questionable.
How do I decipher what I’m eating? The exact definition of
natural flavors from the Code of Federal Regulations is as follows:
“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.”
When the phrase ‘natural flavors’ appears on a package, the best move is to call the company and find out what the flavors are actually made from.
Of course, I say this assuming that we’re all the kind of people who would be horrified to find out that we might have come close to ingesting fluid from the anal sex glands of beavers.
This certainly is not a product for Vegan, vegetarians or those concerned about animal rights. The European Beaver was hunted to near extinction, both for fur and for castoreum, which was also believed to have medicinal properties. The North American beaver population was once more than 60 million, but as of 1988 was 6–12 million, largely due to extensive hunting and trapping. Although sources report that beaver populations have now recovered to a stable level, some experts say that today’s American beaver population is only 5 percent of what it was when Europeans first settled in North America.
Here is a positive if you are one of those people who has stress or
need sleep since castoreum in
In medicine is used for:
• Menstrual problems.
• Sleeping disorders.
By the way if you enjoy smoking please understand that castoreum is used for the smell and taste of your cigarettes. Maybe that is where they got the term, “Cigarette butt!”
In food, castoreum is used to flavor candies, drinks, and desserts. Read the ingredients on food packages, call customer support when you see those words, ‘natural flavors’, and guess what? You’ll never consume anal fluid again.