Sweet scent, great taste, melts down, ring a bell? Yes, vanilla ice creams! If you love the luring aroma of vanilla ice creams, here’s a bitter truth for you to swallow. And, I’m not going to take all the time in the world to tell you what’s the top ingredient that gives the soothing, delectable smell of vanilla ice creams—it is nothing other than the tasty mix of the anal secretions and castor glands from beavers. So, in reality, your vanilla ice cream smells like a beaver’s butt, not vanilla. Shocked???
Often, for many, vanilla flavour and scent is what reminds them of their precious childhood days. But after reading this, I am expecting tons and tons of pukes—all those vanilla ice creams you managed to eat. 😉 Go ahead!
What’s that supposed to mean?
If you happen to see the ingredient label showing ‘natural vanilla flavour,’ without any other mention of vanilla anywhere else, you can be sure that vanilla is not included in that ice cream. You can only conclude the presence of the natural and original vanilla, only if it has a mention of ‘vanilla extract’ or simply ‘vanilla.’
So, the actual essence in many ‘vanilla’ ice creams is not from vanilla pods, but many other shocking sources. One of the prominent ones that came into the limelight recently was the presence of castoreum in ice creams. It is regarded as a ‘safe’ food, and has been approved by various international food agencies, including the FDA.
What is castoreum?
Often masked in the name of ‘natural ingredients,’ Castoreum is the beaver gland used for flavouring. It is a yellowish-brown slimy substance, which has its origin from the castor sacs of beavers. Because of its close proximity to the anus of the rodent, the castoreum extracts are often a slimy mixture of the beaver’s castor secretions, urine, as well as, anal sac secretions.
Why is castoreum used in ice-creams, in the first place?
Beaver gland natural flavour (I use these words precisely because that is what they actually are) are some chemical compounds discharged by the beaver to mark their territory. They have a strong musky scent, that’s very similar to the vanilla.
“The reason behind the fragrance of beaver butt goo is its unique diet that comprises of leaves and barks,” says Joanne Crawford, a wildlife ecologist at Southern Illinois University. “You can milk the anal glands so you can extract the fluid,” says Crawford. “You can squirt (castoreum) out. It’s pretty gross.”
What you can do instead?
While this is just another reason to avoid processed foods and foods with high amount of artificial flavour in it, the ideal way to deal with such instances is to eat foods that you trust—check for the ingredients that are used in the foods that you buy. You can also make your own homemade ice-creams, which are lot cheaper and healthier for your body. Always go for natural ingredients from reputed organic brands to prevent harmful toxins entering your body.
As far as Indian ice cream brands are concerned, castoreum in ice cream is rare. However, going for ice creams that use artificial flavours and essences should be with a great caution, as the ice creams—whether cheap or expensive—might not be what you think it is. And, the method it is made might make it even worse. Read this article to find out why most ice creams in Indian shops are harmful for your health. At theorganic.life, we promote only those ingredients and products that are 100% organic and beneficial for your health.