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FOOD BABE TV: Do You Eat Beaver Butt?

Beaver Butt

I am very excited to announce the launch of Food Babe TV. This is something I have been working on for a very long time. I want to change the way everyone thinks about their food together with you and in a very visual, fun and impactful way. I hope you enjoy the first episode below and share it with your friends and family. I’m counting on you to spread the word and tell everyone what’s really in our food – let’s change the world together!

Watch: Do You Eat Beaver Butt?

Natural Flavors 101

Castoreum (or beaver butt) is just one of the ingredients that could be called a “natural flavor.” But there are many other things called “natural flavors” that could be lurking in your food. We’ll never know what they are because the food companies won’t tell us as they consider this information proprietary.

According to the FDA, natural flavors can include:

“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” (21CFR101.22).

That means, the food industry can use virtually anything found in nature (including genetically engineered fruits, vegetables, meat and hidden forms of MSG derived from yeast) and label it as “natural flavors”. These flavors create a false sense of reality while you are eating and give off the illusion of real food. The flavors work against you, getting you addicted to processed food using the best part of a taste or even smell. (Who are these flavor chemists? You can learn more about them here.)

They don’t want you to have the full essence of the strawberry – they want you to only experience the best 1 millionth part of the taste – so you get “addicted” and keep having to go back for more and more, searching continuously for gratification – eating more of that product which in turns fills Big Food Companies pockets. The Big Food Companies are “hijacking” your taste buds one by one and the FDA couldn’t care less, because they allow these companies to get away with it.

Most of us know artificial flavors derived from petroleum and crude oil aren’t good for us, but the ingredient “natural flavor” can fool the best of us. Natural flavor can legally contain natural occurring “glutamate” bi-products like MSG – which are known excitotoxins. These excitotoxins are some of the chemicals that cause your taste buds to experience irresistibility when it comes to food. Ever wonder why you can’t just eat one chip? Or one cookie? Or why you remember a taste of a product so distinctly and crave it uncontrollably? Natural flavors can be to blame.

A lot of people think you shouldn’t blame these food companies, flavor chemists, or anyone else for people’s inability to stop eating and from getting obese – but when companies practice this type of trickery – you can’t help but realize we are all at a disadvantage. How much do you have to research and know about your food in order to trust it?  Can we expect all people in all income levels to have the time to find and understand this knowledge? Shouldn’t we be able to trust the mustard or the oatmeal the grocery store down the street is selling to us? It’s amazing we can’t trust something labeled “natural flavor” – it sounds so simple, friendly and well natural… but really can be so misleading.

What Can You Do About Natural Flavors?

Humans were meant to eat real food – not fake industrial food created in a laboratory and that’s why I recommend not buying food with the ingredient “natural flavor” on the label. Who wants to be tricked or lured into thinking a food tastes better or smells better than it should or eating beaver butt for goodness sake!?

If you find a product in your pantry or fridge that has “natural flavors” in it – take it back to the store and get your money back. But before you take it back, come on over to my facebook page and post a picture of that product, so we can all learn and identify where natural flavors or beaver butt may be hiding.

Wishing you the greatest health imaginable.

Food Babe

P.S. We all need to know what’s in our food. Let’s save #beaverbutt together. Don’t forget to share this information with your friends and family, by hitting one of the social media buttons below or using “share this” to send them an email.

***No beavers were harmed in the making of this film***

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238 responses to “FOOD BABE TV: Do You Eat Beaver Butt?

  1. I think it would be a great heads up if you did an article on some of the high priced orange juice we drink thinking it is fresh. I read about it a few weeks ago and it is awful. The other think I think should be heard is how they genetically modify tillapia when it is farm raised. thanks!

    1. I LOVE what you are doing – saw you on Marie TV – you were brilliant Vani.

      I too would love you to do a spot on OJ. So gross what they do – perfume in our OJ what’s up with that?!

      1. I would contact the dept of citrus in florida . Citrus processor s association start with florida not so natural in lake wales florida.. In florida …….I would love to help .I know just about everything that has to do with there …..soup….. it is disgusting. …email me [email protected]

    2. I found an article a couple of years ago when I researched the same thing. No, juice is not fresh or natural. There is no possible way that every container can taste exactly the same if they were using “fresh squeezed” orange juice. So juice your own and forget about it.

    3. Terri Phillips writes:

      The other think I think should be heard is how they genetically modify tillapia when it is farm raised.

      And yet another thing that should be heard is how genetically engineered alligators have been released in the sewers of New York City where they have grown to gigantic sizes on a steady diet of juicy, New York City rats. Of course, it isn’t true but neither is your statement regarding genetically modified tilapia in fish farms (there aren’t any).

  2. I didn’t see this first, but I recently returned a carton of coconut milk to the store because it had “natural flavors” listed in it. I think the brand was “So Delicious” & I picked up the Vanilla Unsweetened. I was trying to find something that was refrigerated rather than canned bcuz I’m concerned about BPA in can linings. (My husband was in a hurry & kinda rushed me through the store without letting me really read the label that day, so I had to make a special trip back a different day to return it.)
    Do you have any good & safe recommendations for COCONUT MILK?

    1. Make your own! 1 c. organic unsweetened coconut blended in a blender with 2 c. boiling water. Strain with a cheesecloth. Makes about 1.5 c. No fillers or beaver butt. 😉

  3. I just have a hard time believing that they are harvesting beaver butt. Are there beaver farms? Where are they getting all the beavers from to get there butts. Now if they said pug butt or cow butt I wouldn’t have any questions?

      1. I know there are a lot of problems with what we eat and finding good products is hard, but i had a revelation in food yesterday. Someone had me watch “Forks over Knives”, its a documentary about our diets. It helped me understand how to avoid bad stuff. I hope you pass it on and all of you watch it, along with the food babe. It might change your approach to this whole blog.

  4. I thought the beginning was a little too cutesie for me. For me I like a more formal entertaining education experience.

    1. I agree with the “cutsie” theory too, but it did grow on me after awhile. I just think this is such valuable information that however it get’s out there to the right people is well worth it! Thanks for posting.

    2. It’s all about the message! There’s always a criticism for the way a person chooses to express themselves (one person likes what another doesn’t). The more we can just be who we are without trying to please everyone with the way we say or present something, the more authentic our connections will be – & the more we’ll all receive the education we need from those who are willing to share what they know.

      Well done, Vani. Thank you for all the work you do to find the facts & share them!

  5. Not all natural flavors are bad or distasteful. Some most definitely are as Food Babe points out. But, on the other hand companies can call the essential oil of thyme or oregano natural flavors on a label to protect their recipe formulations. There’s nothing wrong or unnatural about those natural flavors. A company can add coriander to water, distill it and then add the distillate to their product and call is natural flavors. As a picky real food advocate myself, I don’t have a problem with these types of natural flavors.

    The key is to ask manufacturers. I did for Heinz Organic ketchup for example and according to Heinz the natural flavors used in their ketchups are from actual ground grown spices. Think about it, if they specified the exact spices then there would actually be some decent ketchup knockoffs out there…but nobody can touch Heinz flavor, and I think they are wise from a business perspective to not specify the secret formula.

    My thought is to heed the advice from Food Babe for sure, but if you have a favorite product you’ve been buying, don’t throw it out of your pantry line up without checking with the maker first.

  6. I NEVER buy a product that has Natural Flavors in it…..not because of Beaver Butt…..but because of MSG……thanx to you…..I now have TWO Solid reason for NEVER BUYING a product that has Natural Flavors in it!! THANK YOU!!!

    ALSO……ya GOTTA Ask… in the world did someone figure out that Beaver Butt would ENHANCE Flavor??? YUCK!!!

  7. Yes, castoreum can be used for vanilla and strawberry flavors, but the vast majority are flavors such as vanillin (which is the industry standard and directly from vanilla). That too would be labeled as a “natural” flavor.

    Castoreum is often aged for a few years before even using it, both so that it is less powerful in aroma and GRAS (generally recognized as safe). Aging/drying is a common way to make foods safe for consumption, which is why non-pasteurized cheeses have to be aged for a certain time before being safe for consumption. There is no way any company would ever take castoreum from a beaver and then directly add it to food. That is not how things are done in the food industry.

    To boil castoreum down as coming “from a beaver’s butthole” is using language that is meant to go for a shock-and-awe effect, a scare tactic to gross people out. Plus, it is labeled as “natural” because it is- it comes from a natural source. What would be the difference between that and making your own chicken stock from the bones of a chicken? Both come from animals, are meant to add flavor to foods, and are safe to consume. If you make your own chicken stock, you are making natural flavors for yourself.

    It would be valuable to include actual science with all the claims you make on this site. Any basic understanding of chemistry, biochemistry, and food safety would back up the claims you make. It is admirable to strive for healthy, natural foods, but using scare tactics and misinformation hurts your cause.

    1. Agreed, David and thank you!

      I’m not a fan of “hidden ingredients” in my foods or mislabeled or misrepresented ingredients either, but I like your comparison about the chicken bones used in stock. Historically, hunter/gatherers used all parts of the animal to create foods if possible.
      Still, I would like my foods labeled completely and accurately so at least I can make informed decisions if I want it entering my mouth.

      1. Please someone look into orange juice . The biggest lie in the world . Babe must contact me. I would share everything I know . Florida natural . Not really. And now Monsanto is creating citrus trees ….
        That’s the tip of the iceberg.

    2. I’m sorry – but any product that comes from any animal’s anal gland is not acceptable as food. That is waste product and not what anyone should consider edible!

      1. Actually it’s interesting that you say that a certain part of an animal isn’t considered edible. That statement is hugely subjective depending on what part of the planet you’re from. Some people wholly believe in using /EVERY/ part of the animal, which can include the small and large intestine, which is basically the hallway to the exit-door that is the anal area. And even apart from the belief of using every bit of the animal, some places have no choice but to eat all these bits, or they could very well starve. It’s interesting to see that most of modern society has shied away from things they deem ‘gross’ and place this judgement upon food that some other societies deem a necessity.

  8. Food babe….. Tongue in cheek and delightful! Love how you got this message out .
    On another topic, have you seen the movie Unsupersize me ? Incredible 1 year journey of Tracy Ryan and her trainer Carly Asse. Switching wo plant based diet and exercise, she lost 200 pounds in one year. Awe inspiring,

  9. I am working on teaching my Girl Scout troop about safe and healthy food. I want them to be aware of what they eat. Is there a way to show this video if I don’t have Internet access? Our meeting space doesn’t have WIFI.

      1. Please contact me . Citrus is getting out of control .I know the industry very well . And its pretty scary what’s going on . Monsanto is creating a citrus tree that won t get sick . Well as long as you buy there toxic waste and spray away …. the industry is forcing growers to chase psyillid s. With several different cocktails of different toxins . Please get someone to call me I would love to squeeze those folks in florida . P.s. there are a few fresh squeezed companies around … 786 354 8894 william. . Apllied and experimental microbiology

    1. Late response: You could probably just record your entire screen while playing the video and play it back for them later. You’d probably need to download a third-party program that allows screen-recording, but it’ll be saved within your computer files so you can re-watch it anytime without having to be connected to the internet.

    2. Actually there is a way to download any video off of youtube. If you have the Mozilla Firefox web browser, they have a plug in that allows you to directly download any video off of youtube directly from the video site. The file might be a bit large, but it can always be deleted later.

      If you don’t have mozilla then download and install it, then google youtube download plug in for mozilla, and install it.

  10. On Live! With Kelly and Michael, it apparently smells (and tastes) like vanilla and can be used in many baked goods in Sweden. It can also be used in perfumes.

  11. Cute video! I love that you included humor …there seems to be very few informational health videos that uses humor successfully

  12. Dear Food Babe,

    Your Beaver Butt video is super ho! Right on the money. I’m a big fan of your work.

    Congratulations and much success to you!!!

    Actor on the Road of Success.

  13. The last time I bought a product with “Natural Flavors” was Trader Joe’s Precooked Lentils (just 2 listed ingredients – lentils and natural flavors). After a couple bites of the lentils my 6 year old daughter was writhing under the kitchen table in stomach pain. This was the last time I have ever shopped at Trader’s Actually. We only buy from local Farmer’s now. We certainly have a new reverence for our local farmer’s. No more abdominal pain for my daughter…what a blessing.

      1. Probably MSG. I’m highly allergic. Poor darling child. Props and kudos to Vani for all your hard work. There’s so much sht out there… Our poor little children NEED protection and the WAR IS ON!

  14. Lol, cool video!

    I was reading through the comments and enjoyed the good or bad debate about natural flavors. My perspective is this: I don’t like products that don’t offer 100% transparency in their ingredients. I understand the business perspective of wanting to protect a secret recipe, but I don’t like the unknown factor. I never buy foods with “natural flavors” or personal care products with “fragrance”. If a company wants my money, they have to be transparent and allow me the choice of knowing exactly what’s in the products I buy.

  15. If something is 100% natural and organic, does that also automatically mean that there are no GMOs? Having a hard interpreting all of the lies, labeling, etc. Very frustrating!!! Just trying to make sense of it all…

    1. Hi Jennifer – all natural on a label basically means nothing. But if a product is USDA certified organic, then it cannot use GMO ingredients. Hope that helps.

  16. Wouldn’t this be a huge issue for vegans? I’ve heard this is used in a lot of baked goods and as an oatmeal flavor, etc. All foods I would think a vegan eater would never dream has animal products in it. I’m not vegan but if I was, I would not only be grossed out, but furious!

  17. While I admire your food advocacy attitude, perhaps you should spend three weeks in a third world country to see the level of poverty, lack of drinking water; we are all so priviledged to be able to have a discussion about this. When you are hungry, all of these ideas go out the door and you have to eat what nature provides you. If a pigeon can feed a 5 families, totally more than 30 people, they must eat evrything sans feathers down to the bones. I have personally seen this myself. They saved the pigeon for me and my family as we were visiting, i passed so that they could enjoy their delicacy.

    Growing up, we ate from my dad’s garden and cooked most things from scratch. Minimal processed food because we were too poor to buy tbe processed junk. Oh it was time consuming to make, but how I do miss those days!!

    1. I doubt, that in these third world countries you speak of, where they may use or eat every part of the animal (because they don’t have the implied luxury as we do of turning their noses down at eating anal glands) – I doubt that they use extravagant artificial means, laboratory-dependent processes or manufactured chemicals to artificially manipulate what would otherwise not be eaten into a chemical reproduction of a “flavor” – they might even think it bizarre and absurd especially if you compared making such a dubious, chemical concoction to their scrupulous use of their limited resources.
      And maybe they would question what you had done with the rest of the animal whose anal area gland juices you had so thoughtfully saved from being wasted.

  18. Food Babe, I showed my best friend your video and what follows is her theory as to how this came about. It is hilarious!!!!!
    (she blogs…

    “4. Natural flavoring sometimes comes from the expressed anal glands of a beaver.

    Beaver butt juice.

    This little nugget of wisdom comes to you from Audrey Hepburn who acquired this information from Food Babe. I’ve linked you to the site but not the actual video because that would require me to find the video and create the link and I don’t have time for that stuff.

    This, of course, begs the question, Who the hell made the discovery that beaver butt juice is a tasty treat?

    Picture it: A man — we’ll call him Stubert Dinkens, because that sounds like the name of a stupid man — wakes up in his cabin in the hills of I’m guessing West Virginia. His sister-wife, Beatrude Dinkens-Dinkens, is sleeping quietly next to him. He goes to the kitchen and pours himself a cup of coffee and grabs a yogurt from the fridge. He looks outside at the beautiful stream that flows down the mountain. He decides to take his coffee and yogurt and enjoy them down at the water’s edge. He walks down the hill to the stream and sits on a large rock. He gazes out at the water and reflects on the beauty and peacefulness of nature. He takes a sip of his coffee and peels the lid off of his yogurt. He takes a spoon out of his jacket pocket and dips it into the yogurt. He places the spoon in his mouth and, “Damn!” He meant to grab the key lime pie yogurt. This is plain yogurt. It’s swill.

    He glances back out at the water and bemoans the fact that he’s going to have to leave this utopia, this bastion of tranquility, to traipse back up the hill to the cabin to get a new yogurt. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he sees movement. He turns. There, just on the edge of the stream is a beaver, busy collecting sticks and other beavery things — a busy beaver, if you will.

    Stubert looks at the hindquarters of the large, furry beast and says to himself, “I’m gonna sneak up to that there beaver and subdue him. After I subdue him, I’m gonna squeeze his butt. And whatever comes out of his butt, I’m gonna put in this here yogurt and I’m gonna eat it.” Then, after tasting his newly flavored yogurt, Stubert sprints back up the hill, arms flailing wilding, face bleeding profusely from the fight with the beaver who did not want to be touched like that. He bursts through the front door of the cabin and screams, “Beatrude! Beatrude! Come quick! You are NOT going to believe what tastes just like vanilla!”

    And that, my friends, is the story of how a moron named Stubert who was unable to stomach plain yogurt is the reason we all eat beaver butt juice every day of our lives.

    So, to recap, beaver butt juice — you’re eating it. Probably right now.”

    1. You read my mind! Who thinks to themselves gee that stuff looks like something I want in my yogurt! I used to buy artificial vanilla because it cost less. Now that I know where it comes from I make my own with rum and vanilla bean. I don’t even know if I want to eat out anymore after reading much of what is in this blog.

    2. That was thefunniest ! I laughed till I cried.I 1st heard about beaver anal juice from a guy on Dr Oz (think he worked for the FDA).He said it’s found in cheaply made candies, drinks & others. It is in a lot of raspberry flavored items, namely the little “raspberry”-filled hard candy you find at Christmas time.Also in raspberry flavored ice tea drinks. It has a musky flavor similar to vanilla & apparently is cheaper.Some of his other truths were what the FDA actually allows in some food – Gross! I DO not eat canned mushrooms or canned stewed tomatoes anymore – unless they are organic! Just sayin’

  19. thank you for this – i am in the UK and purchased some supposedly vegan natural strawberry flavouring (Green Mountain Flavors inc ) an online supplier and now i am wondering is the ‘natural flavor’ listed on the ingredients actually beaver butt ?????

  20. Wonderful work! This can be a kind of facts which are supposed to be discussed online. A sense of shame within the find machines for not location this kind of create top! Can happen more than in addition to consult with my own website. Cheers Is equal to)

  21. I have known about this for a while, but I love the way Vani explains it in this video. So funny!

  22. Castoreum has not been used in years in flavors because of the kosher movement around the world 20 years ago. Rabbi’s prohibit the use of animal parts from split hoofed animals such as pigs and yes beavers. So if the flavor needs to be kosher, which all do, as it’s a giant marketing gimmick to give consumers the sense the product is healthier, which it’s not, the flavors cant contain castoreum. By the way, back in the day, it was used, and actually made flavors very rich and tasty. BTW, the beavers were never harmed. It’s like taking venom from a snake. Also remember back in the day, mommies used castor oil when kids got sick. It was a sort of snake oil of remedies to get rid of the stomach illnesses.

  23. I applaud your efforts,
    BUT …Isn’t this throwing out the baby with the bathwater?
    Aren’t SOME natural ingredients/flavoring OK?
    The problem is that we DON’T KNOW what that term , natural flavoring, means. Let’s work on that problem, instead of throwing everything out.

  24. I think the main issue here is transparency of our food labeling. And not everything natural is good for us either. Oh lets take poison ivy for example. And just because something starts out as ‘natural’ it often can be the processes it goes through to get into our food that changes and alters it to be not very good. I always read the labels now after coming across this example….organic brown sugar.. Can’t imagine anything else being in there right? I have a child who is highly allergic to nuts. For some reason that day I read the label of the Organic Brown Sugar and found that the ingredients list said….may contain nuts. Really? I could have killed my kid! So even when buying certified organic…read the labels.

    1. Deb, you raise a very good point. The food industry today takes allergens very seriously. I can’t imagine the work you have to do to insure your child’s safety. I personally lost a family member years ago in a car accident caused by an anaphalaxis from a nut allergen during driving. In any event, many food ingredients and or products are produced on the same equipment, allergen or not, hence the label may contain nuts. If industry was to dedicate equipment to allergen and non allergen, the investments would be huge to the magnitude of $100’s of billions to accommodate not only the big eight allergens, but if you take Canada and Europe we deal with 28 unique allergen substances. Companies Labeling to warn consumers are doing the best they can, but in life, nothing is certain, hence the warning. Good luck.. PS Organic does not mean anything about allergen sensitivities, they are separate subjects, which I also have some industry insight into. “Its a marketing scheme” There have been a lot of blood plasma studies to demonstrate no significant on blood results of organic eaters vs. regular consumers. Tissue studies will be forthcoming, but at this point, there is no science to support the claims that organic is healthier. Look for the science. if someone has contrary science, I would love to read it.

      1. I look at “Organic” labels this way: It’s more about what is NOT in these foods than what is. There are no harsh synthetic chemical pesticides used, and they have to use organic, not chemical, fertilizers. It’s the way ALL food was grown/produced before the rise of Big Ag, factory farming, and Big Pharma (or whoever makes all the poisonous pesticides). It is the food our grandmothers would buy in the grocery stores. It is MUCH better for the environment, and healthier because it isn’t sprayed with poisons to kill pests. These toxic chemicals build up in our bodies over time, and I’m sure this will be verified when those tissue studies are completed. Organic is the way nature intended, before greedy humans exploited and adulterated everything.

  25. Stan,
    you can read up on flavors here
    of course you can also go to flavor manufacturers websites, such as Givaudan, Symrise, International Flavors & Fragrances to get a more indepth perspective and education. Rather than speculate, educate.

  26. I have a good joke for you guys.

    How does on get aspergers? Simply order one from your local fast food restaurant.

  27. Hey – wondering if you can offer any insight into article on castoreum. Basically many other websites say castoreum was used frequently 80 years until today but the substance and harvesting is so expensive now that its use is outdated, which make sense because why pay 30-60$ for a beaver butt when you can probably get some chemical cheaper and mass produced just like it…

  28. If the product is certified Vegan and certified nonGMO but contains natural flavor dies it still have beaver butt in it?!

  29. Is it possible that all the FDA is trying to state is that ‘natural flavor’ is a term used to describe the natural flavor enhancement that occurs during the cooking process?

  30. Okay, so, I just came across your blog while looking for info on “the” food additives (I’m a newbie), and I read your article on “beaver’s butt.” First I thought you were being sarcastic or something. Then I thought you were nuts. So I looked up castoreum myself. Now I’m going to puke. I am also hooked on your blog. Thank you so much for researching and writing! While my stomach is turning, I am very grateful to you for putting out info that no one else does. Blessings!

  31. Hi food babe:

    thank you for this message to bring to light the problems with processed food. I have 2 kids 8 and 5 who I like to inform about these matters. I showed them this video this morning to help them understand the problems with ‘natural flavors.’ But I was disappointed with the choice of language in the video — I understand how it helps bring home the point but it also makes it inappropriate for small kids to see. Please could you use more kid-friendly language in the future?

    Regards, Rajni Kant

  32. @Food Babe: Checked out your clean beer list, and one of the companies was Samuel Smith. I purchased Samuel Smith’s “Organic” Chocolate Stout, and thought I’d be getting a “clean” beer. Beer drinkers beware: At the bottom of the label on the bottle it says, “Malt beverage with NATURAL FLAVOR added…” You may want to revise the “clean beer” list, at least to the effect that it alerts people to this. Keep up the great work! Thanks! ~Alex

  33. I’m now not certain where you are getting your info, however great topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or working out more. Thanks for excellent info I used to be searching for this info for my mission.

  34. Hi Food Babe, So is a product is Non-GMO and has “natural flavors” should we still avoid that?

    Thanks for all your hard work!

  35. Can you research make up too? I think people get cancer from the crap found in make up. I heard bat poop was in mascara. And I heard that from a reality tv show where they guys were exterminators. So………eeeewwww!!!

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