Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Food Knowledge: Castoreum


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Castoreum (pronunciation: /kæˈstɔriəm/) is the exudate from the castor sacs of the mature North American Beaver Castor canadensis and the European Beaver Castor fiber. Within the zoological realm, castoreum is the yellowish secretion of the castor sac in combination with the beaver's urine, used during scent marking of territory.[1][2] Both male and female beavers possess a pair of castor sacs and a pair of anal glands located in two cavities under the skin between the pelvis and the base of the tail.[3] The castor sacs are not true glands (endocrine or exocrine) on a cellular level, hence references to these structures as preputial glands or castor glands are misnomers.[4]
Today, it is used in trapping, as a tincture in some perfumes,[5] as a food additive, or touted as an aphrodisiac.

Food use

In the United States, Castoreum has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a food additive,[12] often referenced simply as a "natural flavoring" in the product's list of ingredients. It is commonly used in both food and beverages, especially as vanilla and raspberry flavoring.[13]
Castoreum has been traditionally used in Scandinavia for flavoring snaps commonly referred to as "Bäverhojt".[14]


  1. ^ Walro, J.M. and Svendsen, G.E., "Castor sacs and anal glands of the north american beaver (Castor canadensis): their histology, development, and relationship to scent communication" Journal of Chemical Ecology, Volume 8, Number 5 / May 1982, Department of Zoology and Microbiology, Ohio University,
  2. ^ Müller-Schwarze, Dietland (1992). "Castoreum of beaver (Castor canadensis): function, chemistry and biological activity of its components," Chemical Signals in Vertebrates IV, 457–464, Plenum Press.
  3. ^ Johnston, Robert E.; Sorenson, Peter W.; and Müller-Schwarze, Dietland (1999). Advances in Chemical Signals in Vertebrates, Springer, 1, 282. ISBN 0-306-46114-5.
  4. ^ Svendsen, G.E., Huntsman, W.D, "A field Assay of Beaver Castoreum and Some of its Components," American Midland Naturalist, Vol. 120, No. 1 (Jul., 1988), pp. 144–149, University of Notre Dame.
  5. ^ International Perfume Museum, Grasse France, Website:
  6. ^, "Castoreum, Perfumer's Ancient Intrigue,"[dead link]
  7. ^ International Perfume Museum, Grasse France, Website:
  8. ^ Müller-Schwarze, D and Houlihan, P.W., "Pheromonal activity of single castoreum constituents in beaver,Castor canadensis", Journal of Chemical Ecology, Volume 17, Number 4 / April 1991, Springer Netherlands.
  9. ^ "Beaver casoreum" (pdf file)
  10. ^ Compare Boericke, Materia Medica.
  11. ^ Compare mummy
  12. ^ Burdock GA., "Safety assessment of castoreum extract as a food ingredient.", "International Journal of Toxicology", Jan-Feb;26(1):51-5.
  13. ^ Burdock, George A., Fenaroli's handbook of flavor ingredients. CRC Press, 2005. p. 277.
  14. ^ BVR HJT
  15. ^ "What's Inside: For a Refreshing Hint of Tear Gas, Light Up a Cigarette"