With a lot of chemicals we are exposed to nowadays, of course more and more people are looking for a healthier and a more natural option. Most of people prefer to buy groceries that are labeled as ‘organic’, ‘natural’, ‘chemical free’, and so on. It holds true as well for processed food such as milk, yogurt, and of course, pet snack and treats. Some of the all time favorite flavors are vanilla and strawberry. When you read natural vanilla flavoring and organic strawberry flavoring, what do you have in your mind? Fresh plants processed into flavor extract, or a beaver scent marking their territory with their glands?
Wait… What? Did you say beaver glands?
Now let’s take a closer look…. Prepare yourself for the truth…
Beavers have a pair of pouch-like sacs called castor sacs, located between the kidneys and bladder, between the pelvis and the base of the tail. These castor sacs secrete a yellowish exudate called castoreum which, together with their urine, creates scent to mark the beaver’s territory. Some articles say castoreum is secreted by the beaver’s testicles but it’s not correct. Both male and female beavers secrete castoreum.
Castoreum has been used as a ‘natural flavoring’ for nearly a century. Once the sacs are harvested from the beavers, they are dried and ground into powder which has fruity smell. It is then diluted and used as a flavor enhancer in many food and beverage products, particularly vanilla and raspberry flavor, and sometimes strawberry and other fruit flavor.
Chemicals are definitely not good for your body. After reading this article now you know that natural goods are not always as good as they seem. Still, the best way to enjoy your vanilla or berry beverages is to mix them with fresh berries that you buy from your grocery store.
Next time when you see natural vanilla flavor, natural flavor enhancer, or natural raspberry flavor enhancer, think of a beaver’s face (or butt) and put the product back in the shelf.