The Problem with ‘Natural Flavors’
As ridiculous as what you are about to read may sound, it is not satire.
The trouble with ‘natural flavors’ listed on food ingredient labels is that they can mean a lot of things, thousands of things actually, and you just cannot know what they include until you pick up the phone to call the manufacturer. This catch-all and utterly meaningless term can include everything from toxins like MSG and aspartame (under different names), to rather bizarre animal products like cochineal (ground up beetle husks) and the even more disgusting castoreum (used in ice cream, perfume, and other products), which is, wait for it… powdered beaver anal scent gland extract. Yes, you read that correctly. Seriously, you cannot make this stuff up.
And while castoreum is technically a ‘natural flavoring,’ and does not appear to be harmful, it definitely strains the limits of what should be reasonably added to our food without our knowledge. Castoreum should be of particular interest to vegans for ethical reasons, as they may be unknowingly consuming an undisclosed beaver product.
But beyond that vocal niche of passionate herbivores — I am not a vegan and do appreciate meat on occasion (grass fed of course) — it is not unreasonable to demand transparent labeling of ‘natural flavors’ so that we can all make informed decisions about whether we want to consume something like crushed beaver anal scent gland extract — or the thousands of other undisclosed, exotic, and at times harmful products that can fall under the nebulous “natural flavors” label.
Check out the article below, and take a moment to sign the petition to let the FDA know that ‘natural flavors’ need to be more transparently labeled.
Tell the FDA: Crushed beavers are not a “natural flavoring”
(Watchdog.net) For years, various food companies have been using “castoreum” to flavor ice cream and other foods. The problem? Castoreum is a fancy word for a compound from the crushed anal “sacs” of beavers. Not only is this stuff disgusting and inhumane, it’s kept totally secret. Under FDA rules, companies don’t need to include castoreum on the ingredients list — they can just call it “natural flavoring”.
The FDA normally just hears from big business lobbyists, but if we all speak out, we can demand they adopt honest rules about this disgusting practice. That’s why we need everyone to sign our petition to them!
PETITION TO THE FDA: Please stop allowing “castoreum” to be considered just another “natural flavor” and require food manufacturers to include it on the ingredients. Customers deserve to know when they’re eating bizarre animal products.