Home Weekend WTF? Weekend WTF: Jamie Oliver Knows What’s In Your Ice Cream

Weekend WTF: Jamie Oliver Knows What’s In Your Ice Cream

by Erika Nicole Kendall

From FriendsEat:

The 35-year-old chef Jamie Oliver caused quite a stir with an appearance on Letterman’s The Late Show, where for Letterman, Food Revolution may have new meaning.

Oliver explained to Dave and his audience that vanilla ice cream contains a product called castoreum. “It comes from rendered beaver anal gland,” said Oliver. “It’s in cheap strawberry syrups and vanilla ice cream, and If you like that stuff, next time you put it in your mouth, just think of anal gland.”

When Letterman asked why beaver gland, Oliver replied, “More to the point, who found out that a beaver anal gland tastes good?”

According to the Journal of Chemical Ecology, and the publication Chemical Signals in Vertebrates, castoreum is the yellowish secretion of the castor sac, combined with the beaver’s urine used during scent marking of territory.“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.”

Lee sent this in, adding “Oliver explains that castoreum, found in many vanilla ice creams and strawberry syrups, is made from beaver anal gland.  If THAT doesn’t convince folks to eat clean, I don’t know what will.

Girl, you ain’t never lied. And, look – there’s video!

But wait, I’m not done. FriendsEat goes on to explain:

castoreum is removed from the beaver during the skinning period, and is dried in the sun, or sometimes over burning wood.

“The fresh pouch contains a yellowish, butter-like mass with a fetid, sharp, aromatic odor. The dried pouch is dark-brown, hard and resinous. Castoreum has a warm, animal-sweet odor, becoming more pleasant on dilution.”

Soooooooo, a beaver is skinned, his anal secretions [and urine] are removed and dried over burning wood… and then put in your cheap vanilla ice creams and strawberry or raspberry syrups?

Oh, okay. Bon appetit, baby.

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21 comments

Ecila May 14, 2011 - 10:00 AM

OK…. I am so done! That is so disgusting!

Lynaya May 17, 2011 - 7:44 AM

I read this expecting to see some evidence you dug up, proving that Jamie Oliver was wrong….well… This post definitely will keep me out of that ice cream my family loves to keep in the freezer. My favorite flavor too….I’m not even tempted.

Ishaya May 14, 2011 - 10:13 AM

Ugh. I just threw away my ice cream lol

nikki May 14, 2011 - 10:14 AM

This one really made me SICK to my stomach! I’ve been making my own ice cream using raw nuts or coconut milk, agave nectar, vanilla beans, & fresh fruits…No beaver crap here! ugh Thanks for informing us about these horrible things being added to our food.

Malpha May 14, 2011 - 11:25 AM

“Cheap vanilla ice cream….”

So my Haagan-Daaz is okay, right?! 😉

Zee May 14, 2011 - 11:37 AM

C’mon guys, the key question, which is not being addressed is whether or not it is poisonous. If it is, then condemn away. If it isn’t, then surely disgusting is not equal to toxic? So many of our foods are taken from animal organs, glands and secretions. We don’t have to like them, but since this is a blog discussing nutrition and healthy living, shouldn’t we at least try to do more than scratch the surface?

Erika Nicole Kendall May 14, 2011 - 1:26 PM

I’m sorry, but you’re wrong.

I discuss nutrition and healthy living as it pertains to CLEAN EATING, because my personal belief is that this overrun collective of chemicals and their clandestine origins are part of the problem. And if highlighting the origin of some of this ridiculousness compels people to decide AGAINST consuming it, then that is their right. Some people draw the line at having their syrups and ice creams flavored by the anal secretions of skinned beavers. If you don’t? *shrug* Everyone’s threshold is different, and I’m not going to chastise someone for setting their threshold higher than the next person. (I wouldn’t even chastise someone for setting their threshold LOWER than MINE, unless they start ridiculing people whose thresholds are different from theirs, or insinuating something suspect.)

Obviously the chemical isn’t “poisonous” because it’s been deemed “generally recognized as safe” by our government. Shouldn’t we “at least try to do more than scratch the surface” or whether or not it can directly kill you? Isn’t THAT what my blog does? C’mon. Seriously.

LBC May 17, 2011 - 3:56 PM

Not that I’m not grossed out, but, really, I’m not sure it’s any less clean than eating the lactation secretions of cows. Like it or not, it’s still basically a natural animal product. Dried and diluted is not really that much processing. Most of the herbs we use in cooking are basically dried and, OK not diluted, but crushed, ground, or bruised.

Which is not to say I won’t still be making my own ice cream, but . . . yeah, the gross-out factor is high, but the chemical-additive argument is relatively weak. We’re hardly talking melamine here.

I have to say that, while I don’t doubt there are plenty of disgusting things added to seemingly simple and innocuous foods, I don’t entirely trust TV chefs to do exposés, either. Do we actually know how universal this additive is? Or is he playing it up for shock value because it’s so revolting?

Erika Nicole Kendall May 17, 2011 - 4:08 PM

“Like it or not, it’s still basically a natural animal product.”

Really? LOL

Beyond a certain point on the “too much scale,” it doesn’t matter how far down the scale you go. Once you cross the point of the urine and anal secretions of beavers being burned and having a “dark, buttery” taste to it… enough is enough.

I don’t know where I made the “chemical additive” argument here, beyond the fact that this IS an unnecessary chemical addition – and a gross one – when regular vanilla would suffice… as is usually the case with MOST chemical-additives. Don’t miss the point.

I’m not touching the “lactation secretion of cows” because this is a far – and terrible – reach. It’s silly to compare cow milk to the burned urine and anal glands of beavers.

TheProDiva May 14, 2011 - 11:53 AM

Well…..there you have it! Vanilla ice cream has officially been taken off my grocery list!

IntegratedMemoirs May 14, 2011 - 11:57 AM

That’s another reason why I’m vegan and eat natural foods. People need to start going beyond “low fat” or “low calorie” foods, and check the ingredients in these foods.

Shante May 14, 2011 - 12:07 PM

Well I have never been a fan of cheap ice cream simply because it is full of air being over run and all but umm yea this just takes the cake.

Grace @ Healthy Dreaming May 14, 2011 - 12:22 PM

……..I love vanilla ice cream -_-

I loved the first season of Food Revolution! I haven’t seen the 2nd season but I’ve heard he’s having a hard time getting cooperation.

have a lovely weekend!

E. May 14, 2011 - 1:21 PM

Ok, I’m done! Good thing I was returning to my vegan diet anyway eesh.

Rita May 14, 2011 - 4:53 PM

Well dang, glad I passed on the ice cream sale last night.

Hey Erica, got a recipe for clean easy ice cream??

JoAnna May 15, 2011 - 12:16 AM

I think some of you are forgetting that Jamie mentioned castoreum was in “cheap” strawberry syrups and vanilla ice cream. So if you look at the ingredients in a quality vanilla ice cream, they usually show : cream, egg yolks, milk, sugar & vanilla. 5 ingredients. You add flavors and you get more ingredients, but nothing you couldn’t buy from the market yourself. I bought a gelato machine off craigslist 2 years ago and went gelato crazy for 3 months before I put it back in its box and on the gadget shelf. Ice cream isn’t that hard to make. And you’ll be able to indulge knowing only healthy natural ingredients went into it.

Eva May 16, 2011 - 10:36 AM

I guess this is why I’ve always hated ice cream.

Pas May 16, 2011 - 11:38 AM

Well then…thank gawd I know how to make creme anglaise now.

Jennifer May 16, 2011 - 2:00 PM

As a newbie to clean eating, thank you for this…it helps to keep me on the right path.

TeaJae June 10, 2012 - 8:27 PM

that is uber-nasty, make your own ice cream if you need to. i’m guessing these are the nasty little ice cream cups with the wooden spoon on top that parents always bring to the preschools, lol

Caryn January 31, 2013 - 10:55 PM

One more added reason no to touch the stuff and make my own. Anything else I need to know about that I can’t eat anymore? Let’s get it all out there on the table! lol

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