Part of Vanilla Flavoring Comes From Beaver Butt Goo
I saw a meme the other day that I thought had no real evidence behind it, but a quick Google search turned up more information than I ever wanted to know, especially with it being cookie season.
Castoreum is a key ingredient and additive in perfumes and foods, with its use dating back over 80 years, according a 2007 study from International Journal of Toxicology.
Where the additive comes from is going to likely ruin many of your favorite snacks.
According to National Geographic, "Beaver butts secrete a goo called castoreum, which the animals use to mark their territory." Don't worry, it's been labeled "generally regarded as safe" by the FDA.
The goo comes from the beaver's castor sac, located between the pelvis and the tail.
Now here's where it gets really gross.
National Geographic says "Because of its close proximity to the anal glands, castoreum is often a combination of castor gland secretions, anal gland secretions, and urine." That means the stuff that makes vanilla taste like vanilla usually manes we're eating some urine and some "anal gland secretions". Is that poo? Is that something else? I don't want to know.
“I lift up the animal’s tail,” said Joanne Crawford, a wildlife ecologist at Southern Illinois University, “and I’m like, ‘Get down there, and stick your nose near its bum.'”
“You can milk the anal glands so you can extract the fluid,” Crawford said. “You can squirt [castoreum] out. It’s pretty gross.”
Surprisingly enough, castoreum is consumed in the amount of only about 292 pounds a year.
So do you think you'll keep eating the Beaver poo-goo? I will. It doesn't seem like I have much of an option.
Read more at National Geographic