The Swedish National Food Agency (Livsmedelsverket) has confirmed that anal secretions from the beaver can be used to provide a taste similar to vanilla in baked goods and sweets.
Information that beaver bottoms can be a source of vanilla aroma, in the form of Castoreum, have been circulating on the internet recently and the agency has now confirmed that there is substance to the secretions.
"Natural aromas can be extracts from plants, fungi, and in some cases animals. The labelling provisions do not require that the kind of flavour is indicated, with the exception of coffee and quinine," Ulla Beckman Sundh at the agency said.
Vanilla flavour, it has been established, is not only derived from the vanilla bean. It can also come from conifer trees, or indeed from the anal passage of a beaver.
Beckman Sundh however questioned whether the beaver is likely to become a common a source of flavouring for baked goods, sweets, soft drinks and other items.
"As far as I know the beaver is not an animal which is bred, so supply is not that great," she said.
The beaver population was wiped out in Sweden in the 19th century due to the popularity of castoreum which was then used in natural medicines. Following the import of animals from Norway in the 1920s, the population has grown to around 100,000.