Wondrous Words Wednesday is a fabulous weekly meme hosted by Bermuda Onion, where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our weekly reading.
I love that new words can turn up anywhere. Often when you least expect them. This week's word came from following a link on Facebook and reading an article about The 15 Grossest Things You're Eating. I could cope with paint chemicals in salad dressing and cloned cows stomach. But was completely stopped in my tracks by Beaver Anal Gland Juice. It's known as Castoreum.
Castoreum is indeed the secretion from beaver anal glands. Beavers combine it with urine and use it to mark their territories. Humans use it as vanilla or raspberry flavouring in foods! And rather incredibly in perfumes. It can even be labelled as "natural flavouring"in foods as it is a natural product- for beavers.
There are so many questions! How did anyone ever think of using it for any use? There is apparently a reasonably long history of use such that the FDA classes it as Generally Recognised as Safe, and there have not been any reports of human adverse reactions.
Still, I've seen what comes out when my vet treats my dog's blocked anal glands. Definitely not appetising. I don't want to spread it on toast, or drink it.
Jamie Oliver isn't a fan either.
I can only hope that as we don't have beavers in Australia that I'm not at much risk of accidentally ingesting some beaver anal products. I wonder if I ever have? It really doesn't bear thinking about. I think I would be happy if castoreum was banned.