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.