Local News

Story published: 06-19-2013 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Gambill and family continue to journey through healthy eating and not-so-natural flavoring

By Angie Gambill

As I continue on my healthy journey, I’m learning more and more about protecting my family from everyday dangers found on the grocers’ shelves. For some time I have dutifully scanned ingredient lists on cans, jars, boxes and wrappers, assuming that I could believe what I was reading. However, my latest discovery heightened my sense of distrust of the Food and Drug Administration to an entirely new level.

It seems that the average person’s definition of certain words differs drastically from that of the FDA. For instance, if the label reads “natural flavors,” most of us think of extracts or flavors from natural, edible things like fruits, vegetables, leaves, plants, and roots. Right? Think again. Have you ever heard of castoreum? Neither had I. This food flavoring (you read that correctly – food flavoring) is extracted from the castor sac scent glands of the beaver, which are located near the anus. Somebody please tell me, “In what world is this kind of deception acceptable?” If I happen to be the sort of person that would entertain the idea of eating such a thoroughly disgusting “natural flavor,” I should be allowed to make that decision for myself, don’t you think? A rose by any other name is still a rose, and in this case, secretions from a beaver’s behind are still secretions from a beaver’s behind. Calling it “natural flavoring” makes it no less atrocious.

In what foods can you find this delectable ingredient under its harmless name of natural flavoring? For starters, packaged vanilla flavored products are almost always guilty. You might want to check the ingredient list on your vanilla ice cream, pudding, cookies, etc. Unfortunately, the list goes on and on. Don’t forget, you’re not looking for the word “castoreum.” That would be too easy. “Natural flavors” covers many sins.

The exact definition of natural flavors from the Code of Federal Regulations is as follows: “The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”

I’m not sure if castoreum falls under the category of meat or spice. I apologize for my sarcasm, but I’m not sure how else to approach this subject. I am outraged that the FDA has allowed companies to lace such atrocities into my family’s diet under the guise of protecting our health.

To read the entire article, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk. The story can be found on page B-4.