Yeah, you might want to put down that leftover Easter candy for a minute while we drop some scientific knowledge, because according to a Huffington Post article, Cadbury Creme Eggs could contain a natural flavoring derived from the dried perineal glands of beavers. And, yeah, sometimes those glands are simply referred to as anal glands.
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What exactly is a perineal gland, you ask? That's the gland that secretes an odorous substance used to mark territory, and it's often located near an animal's anus. Apparently, when dried, they sacks make for a great -- and "natural" -- vanilla flavoring called castoreum.
Mmmmm, beaver ass.
The Hershey Company website doesn't list what "natural and artificial flavors" are used in Cadbury Creme Eggs. But that doesn't mean that the candy doesn't contain the flavoring.
That's because the FDA and the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association both say the product is "generally recognized as safe," meaning castoreum is approved for human consumption and use in food. Because it qualifies as a natural flavoring (what's more natural than dried-up beaver butt glands?), the ingredient doesn't have to be listed specifically on labels.
That's right, the catch-all term "natural flavoring" could really mean your food contains crushed and dried beaver perineal glands.
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Experts say the flavoring has been used in foods and perfumes for the past 80 years, though mainly in perfumes since castoreum isn't exactly cheap to produce -- for reasons you can imagine. But one food item that people are pretty sure they're using it in is vanilla and raspberry ice cream.
The good news is that the FDA Code of Federal Regulations is pretty strict about what can and cannot be in vanilla extract. So if you're ever eyeing a vanilla-flavored product with suspicion, you're safe as long as it's labeled as including "vanilla extract," specifically.
As for everything else, well, that's between you and the beavers.