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November 3rd, 2011

Your Favorite Flavor Just Might be Beaver Anal Glands

By Rich Bindell

I’ve always disliked the term “natural flavors” on the occasion that I see it in the ingredients list on a food label. What does that mean exactly? I always thought it included things like lemon juice or sea salt. But natural flavors can include human hair, crushed-up beetles and, my favorite, beaver anal glands. These all sound like things that might “accidentally” make it into your food. But in the processed food industry, these items give food its distinctive taste and texture. They are purposefully added to foods and often called “natural,” according to Bruce Bradley, former corporate food executive turned blogger. (Hat tip to Grist for telling us about him.) Bradley tackles topics such as the truth behind the sugar substitute Truvia and the real meaning of the terms “natural flavors and colors” on The Blog of Bruce Bradley, which covers topics besides food, such as family, writing and animals. But the most hard-hitting entries seem to be food related, thanks to the time he spent as an executive in the food industry where he worked for companies including General Mills, Nabisco and Pillsbury. Bradley seems comfortable with his new role, one of informant. Many of his food blogs include information about the frequent practices of the processed food industry that are quite revealing. Be sure to check out this blog entry from Halloween. It just might make your skin crawl. As a consumer advocate, it’s interesting for us to see an insider blog that gives up industry secrets and tricks. Though we’re familiar with many of them, it confirms that food companies manipulate language and industry requirements in order to make claims that otherwise might be considered false. This is why it’s so important for consumers to be aware of various loopholes in labeling laws.

12 Comments on Your Favorite Flavor Just Might be Beaver Anal Glands

  1. Kris Miller says:

    You can’t just head the article with “beaver anal glands” and leave us hanging with no explanation!
    Intrigued, Yet Grossed Out

    • bryn comeaux says:

      it is the musk glands used to attract mates by marking territories that are near the anus of many water fairing and other mammals. v thees have been used for perfume to make musk cologne. They have discovered that the musk can make a strong odor of nearly any smell and since most of flavor is in the odor they have simply made perfumes that smell like foods. this is more economical than using all those actual ingredients.
      rasberry soda fat free candies, vanilla ice cream all use castorem
      but you can make easy ice cream without an ice cream maker.
      just add whipping cream to milk, sugar and other ingredients you like into a zip lock bag and freeze solid. then microwave a few seconds until soft.
      if you get ice crystals add more cream.
      also if its too rich add the nearly frozen mixture to an ice cream maker. those machines don’t work well unless the ingredients are nearly frozen they just froth it up to air entrain it so its not quite so rich.
      i make a vanilla base and than ad all sorts of fruits and nuts and stuff. never bought anal gland ice cream again.

    • Bob says:

      Who was the sick dumba** who decided to try beaver anal glands?! Well, he changed the world.

  2. Deana Main says:

    Asa trained eco-consultant,I am aware and always astonished at the number of findings that are misleading to the consumer. To me as well! I am not a chemist, but do understand that there is a great difference in Natural and Green, Sustainable,Organic, and so on. To the average consumer, many things are hidden. No wonder we are living in a sick society, that is reaching now beyond our time and if not changed reaches our children’s children. So many unneccesary chemicals, and so many illnesses that stem from our lack of responsibility to mankind, all for the pursuit of making a quick buck.

  3. @Kris – Ha ha ha! Yeah, nice way to start an article, just mention the beaver anal glands & that’ll bring ’em in. 😉 I had posted about this and hair being used in foods, both of which can be found on my blog at:

    Make sure you’re not eating when you read it! LOL

  4. Chuck says:

    There aren’t enough beavers available to enter into the food chain. There aren’t commercial beaver farms that could possible satisfy the demand for raspberry chipolte sauce for one costco Store, let alone support a for-profit market entry as a flavoring additive. Just ain’t gonna happen.

  5. doucement says:

    Je souffle mes quarante-huit bougies dans un mois !
    Ici Allyriane
    Je bosse comme hydrobiologiste . Je suis plutôt d’un caractère souriant.

  6. BeachN says:

    Well no one has asked this so I will..Have any of you ever seen a “Beaver Farm” lol. I know I haven’t nor have I ever seen anyone milk a Beaver for Musk lol.. This is crazy..People will believe anything..

  7. Michael Polidori says:

    Of course I haven’t seen any beaver farms. But did you see the latest episode of the reality show where intrepid backwoodsmen and ladies go out trapping and harvesting beaver butt oil for sale to Breyers Ice Cream?
    The show is called “Smelliest Catch”!

    Kidding aside, beaver butt oil is being used for vanilla flavoring, but it isn’t coming from beavers directly. Scientists have planted the gene for making castoreum into bacteria. We grow the bacteria in large vats crushing them when the bacteria are screaming that they can’t take anymore of life as a stinking anal juice producing factory.

    After we crush them we try to “purify” out the flavorful stinky stuff, but it’s very hard to do (it’s a large molecule/molecules). but we get a good enough concentration to make an acceptable vanilla flavoring substitute… OMG, really?!?!… yes Virginia, shut up and eat your beaver.

    Why go through all that bother? Because getting vanilla extract is more expensive… beaver butt oll produced in bacteria is vanilla flavoring on the cheap… along with a host of contaminants we shouldn’t be eating.

    Granted there are contaminants in vanilla extract too. But if I had my choice I would be using real vanilla rather than a similar substance coming out of a bacteria or a “beaver’s but-tocks” (say it like Gump would).

    By the way… Breyers Ice Cream doesn’t have ANY real vanilla in any of there versions of vanilla ice cream (just vanilla “flavor”). Hagen Daas & Ben and Jerry’s use real vanilla… you makes your choices and slurps your poisons… AAAHHHRRRGGG!!! Or is that “AAARRRGGGHHH!!!”?

    Michael Polidori

    PS – it’s all true… except for the show “Smelliest Catch” and I’m not exactly sure if bacteria scream… I wonder what’s in that “chocolate” “syrup” you are putting on your beaver-butt-flavored “ice cream”?

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