Swedens food watchdog has confirmed a… yellowish secretion called castoreum is extracted from (beaver’s) scent-laying anal glands, and is sometimes mixed into perfumes and stuff we eat. Its an alternative to vanilla beans, vanillin, conifer tree extract and other sources of vanilla flavour, and is “generally recognised as safe” by the US authorities. The… ever-handy anti-rumour archive Snopes declared earlier this year that this is all true and not a lie, the Swedish National Food Agency has seen fit to confirm the origin of castoreum this week.
This is grim. Really grim. But it becomes even more grim to think that natural flavourings or even vanilla flavourings could be derived from this grim practice. If castoreum is present in products that are supposedly vanilla flavour we should be avoiding this stuff, obviously.
Beavers make me think of cute animals swimming, messing with sticks and gnawing stuff. Vanilla, on the other hand, makes me think of custard and ice cream. Vegan version of these should not have been anywhere near a beaver at all, obviously. So how easy is it to ensure our vegan custard and ice cream faves are free of castoreum? Continue reading