I’ve heard of being vanilla, but this is ridiculous.

Sweden admits beaver ‘secretions’ used as vanilla flavouring

The Swedish National Food Agency has confirmed that anal secretions from the beaver can be used to provide vanilla-type flavours in baked goods and sweets.

If you had trouble getting your head around insects in your yogurt, then you might want to put down your vanilla crème doughnut.

Apparently, it’s no longer safe to assume that if you are eating something vanilla flavoured, it has come from the vanilla bean. It can also come from conifer trees, made synthetically, or, if you live in the States or Europe, from the beaver’s anal glands.

Castoreum is scientifically described as the “exudate from the castor sacs of the mature European and North American Beaver”, which beavers use in the wild to mark their territory.

Up until recently, it wasn’t widely known that Castoreum was a source of vanilla flavor. But thanks to whisperings online, the Swedish National Agency has confirmed it, and what’s more, you may not even be aware you’re eating it.

The Food Agency pointed out that “labeling provisions do not require that the kind of flavor is indicated, with the exception of coffee and quinine.”

This means that it will more likely be listed as ‘natural flavouring,’which could be of concern to vegetarians or vegans.

Agency representative Ulla Beckman Sundh said:

“Natural aromas can be extracts from plants, fungi, and in some cases animals.”

She also pointed out the beaver is not bred for it’s secretions and is unlikely to be the common source of food flavouring “so supply is not that great.”

That might have something to do with how trappers harvest it. After the animal is skinned, the glands are removed, smoked or sun dried, and then sold on.
Annual industry consumption is around 136 kg, whereas vanillin is over 1.17 million pounds annually, according to

It was the demand for castoreum in natural medicines during the 19th century that almost entirely wiped out the beaver population in Sweden – but the import of beavers in 1920s from Norway has seen the population grow.

As well as baked goods and sweets, Castoreum is also used in perfumes, chewing gum, frozen dairy, gelatins and puddings, and used to contribute to the flavour and odor of cigarettes.

What do you think? Should food manufacturers be forced to list Castoreum as an animal product rather than a ‘natural ingredient’?

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