I truly hate being the bearer of bad news but I think this just has to be known. So, you might want to sit down for this one…
If You Use Imitation Vanilla In Your Baked Goods Just Know You Are Probably Eating Beaver Butt Goo!
No, I am not kidding…
According to The National Geographic, Beaver Butts Emit Goo Used for Vanilla Flavoring which means if you are baking away this holiday season and opt for the imitation stuff over the pure vanilla extract, (because it’s so much cheaper) you are probably eating that beaver butt goo.
The anal excretions of beavers is called castoreum, which the animals use to mark their territory.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists castoreum as a “generally regarded as safe” additive, and manufacturers have been using it extensively in perfumes and foods for at least 80 years, according to a 2007 study in the International Journal of Toxicology.National Geographic
Oh, and in case you’re wondering how they even go about getting this stuff, there are actual people that lift up the tails of beavers, touch their bum and extract this stuff.
Is that where they get the “extract” part of the name? Ha!
So, what is Castoreum? Apparently:
It is a chemical compound that mostly comes from a beaver’s castor sacs, which are located between the pelvis and the base of the tail. Because of its close proximity to the anal glands, castoreum is often a combination of castor gland secretions, anal gland secretions, and urine.National Geographic
Oh and get this – it actually has a has a musky, vanilla scent, which is why it is used in in recipes and food.
I went and checked my labels and I don’t see it in the vanilla I have BUT as it turns out, due to the FDA’s rules on labeling, companies can get away with NOT listing the ingredient on the label and instead refer to it as “natural flavoring”.
So, there you have it. You have probably been eating beaver butt goo your entire life without even knowing it.
The bad news is, it’s gross. The good news is, we are all still alive and let’s be honest, butt goo or not, vanilla is delicious.