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Beaver anal secretions a vanilla substitute in some foods

If stories about gross foods make you queasy, you may want to click away now. (May we suggest this adorable video about an elephant and dog who are best friends.)

If you have a hearty constitution and are still with us, we commend you. Consider yourself forewarned.

Recently, The Swedish National Food Agency confirmed what's long been a rumor on the internet: Anal secretions from beavers can be used as a vanilla-like flavoring in food.

The beaver's anal gland secretes Castoreum which can be used as a food additive. 

According to Health.com, while it sounds downright disgusting, the FDA says it’s GRAS, meaning it’s “generally recognized as safe.” You won’t see this one on the food label because it’s generally listed as “natural flavoring.” 

The story has been around on the internet for a while and gained attention in 2011 when chef Jamie Oliver talked about Castoreum on "The Late Show with David Letterman". Snopes.com has even evaluated the rumor and declared it true.

Consumer blog Savvy Saving Bytes wrote about Castoreum and found a food industry eBook published in 2005 that lists foods and beverages that may contain Castoreum extract. The list includes alcoholic beverages, baked goods, gelatins/puddings, ice cream, soft candy, chewing gum and more.

So the next you see "natural flavorings" listed as an ingredient on your favorite baked good or vanilla ice cream, try not to think about just how natural that flavoring might be.

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News

  • During one of Jordan Spieth's many low points Sunday in the British Open, his caddie reminded him of a photo from a Mexico beach holiday two weeks ago that showed him in All-Star company that included Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan. The message: 'You belong in that group.' Spieth left little doubt with a closing performance that ranks among the greatest finishes in major championship history. Trailing for the first time all weekend at Royal Birkdale — and lucky it was only one stroke thanks to a shot from the driving range — the 23-year-old Texan followed with a birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie stretch that allowed him to close with a 1-under 69 and win the British Open by three shots over Matt Kuchar. Spieth captured the third leg of the career Grand Slam and heads to the PGA Championship next month with a chance to be the youngest to win them all. 'This is as much of a high as I've ever experienced in my golfing life,' Spieth said. And it all started in a spot so dire it looked as though he would endure another major meltdown. The break of the tournament — and a moment that will rate alongside Seve Ballesteros making birdie from the car park when he won at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in 1979 — was when Spieth discovered the range was part of the course. His tee shot was so far to the right on the par-4 13th hole that it sailed some 75 yards from the fairway and settled in thick grass on a dune so steep he could hardly stand up, let alone take a swing. The only smart option was to take a one-shot penalty for an unplayable lie. And that's when Spieth showed his golfing brain is as valuable as any club in his bag. He had the presence to ask if the driving range was out of bounds. It wasn't, which allowed him to go back in a straight line from the flag until he was on the range among the equipment trucks. After getting free relief from them, he still faced a blind shot over the dunes to a hole littered by pot bunkers. He hit 3-iron just short of a bunker near the green , pitched over it to about 7 feet and made what he considers the most important putt of the day to escape with bogey. And then came the finishing kick like Phelps, the go-ahead jumper like Jordan. Spieth hit 6-iron to the 14th that landed in front of the flag and came within inches of an ace, leading to a short birdie putt to regain the lead. On the par-5 15th, he rolled in a 50-foot eagle putt and playfully barked at caddie Michael Greller to pick it out of the cup. 'Go get that,' he said, pointing to the hole. And he wasn't done. Spieth rolled in a 30-foot putt across the 16th green for a two-shot lead, and he kept that margin by pouring in a 7-foot putt to match birdies with Kuchar. The final putt for par was a tap-in, as easy a shot as he had all day. 'To follow that bogey on 13 with great golf shots and great putts, and play the final five holes in 5-under par, I was just very happy for him and very impressed to watch all that guts, determination and skill,' Jack Nicklaus posted on Facebook. Spieth and Jack Nicklaus are the only players to win three different majors at age 23. 'This is a dream come true for me,' Spieth said, gazing at his name on the silver claret jug. 'Absolutely a dream come true.' For so much of Sunday, it felt like a recurring nightmare. Just 15 months ago, Spieth lost a five-shot lead on the back nine at the Masters, coming undone with a quadruple-bogey 7 on the 12th hole. It was more of a slow bleed at Royal Birkdale, with three bogeys on the opening four holes and four putts inside 8 feet that he missed on the front nine to fall into a tie with Kuchar. 'I put a lot of pressure on myself unfortunately, and not on purpose, before the round today, just thinking this is the best opportunity that I've had since the '16 Masters,' he said. 'And if it weren't to go my way today, then all I'm going to be questioned about and thought about and murmured about is in comparison to that. And that adds a lot of pressure to me. 'Closing today was extremely important for the way I look at myself.' Kuchar, playing in the final group of a major for the first time, could only watch. He had a one-shot lead after 13 holes, played the next four holes with two birdies and two pars and found himself two shots behind and out of luck. Kuchar walked off the green to find his wife and two sons waiting, a surprise because they had been in Colorado the day before, and it added to the emotions. 'It's crushing. It hurts. And it's an excitement and a thrill to have played well, put up a battle, put up a fight,' said Kuchar, who closed with a 69. 'I can only control what I do, how I play. Jordan is a great champion and certainly played that way in the finishing stretch today. It was impressive stuff. All you can really do is sit back, tip your cap and say, 'Well done.' And it was certainly a show that he put on.' Zach Johnson, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler were among those who waited by the 18th to watch Spieth capture yet another major. Johnson won at St. Andrews two years ago, when Spieth missed the playoff by one shot in his bid for the calendar Grand Slam. Spieth drank wine from the jug that year, which he was told was bad luck for anyone wanting to possess the trophy one day. 'I started to believe them a bit through nine holes today,' he said. 'It feels good to have this in my hands.' From the driving range to the claret jug, Spieth put himself in hallowed territory just four days before his 24th birthday. Gene Sarazen in 1923 was the only other player with three majors before turning 24. Spieth won for the third time this year, moved to No. 2 in the world and already has 11 victories on the PGA Tour. Li Haotong of China shot a 63 and finished third at 6-under 274. He was on the practice range in case the leaders came back to him, and it was odd to see Spieth join him there as he tried to figure out how to get out of his jam. Moments later, when he heard one massive roar after another, Spieth delivered the answer.
  • Protesters who want critically ill British baby Charlie Gard to receive an experimental medical treatment rallied Sunday, while hospital officials say emotions are running so high in the heart-breaking case they have received death threats. A small group of about 20 activists supporting Gard's parents, including some from the United States, gathered Sunday afternoon outside the High Court in London where legal proceedings will resume Monday with new medical evidence expected. Charlie has a rare genetic condition and suffers from brain damage. His case, which pits his parents' wishes in conflict with the views of doctors treating him, has generated international attention. His parents are fighting to get him more medical care but Great Ormond Street Hospital officials say the experimental treatment won't work and will just cause the 11-month-old more suffering. They argue that his life support should be turned off and he should receive palliative care. Hospital chairwoman Mary MacLeod said the London police have been contacted because of numerous threats received by the hospital's employees. 'Staff have received abuse both in the street and online,' she said. 'Thousands of abusive messages have been sent to doctors and nurses whose life's work is to care for sick children. Many of these messages are menacing, including death threats.' MacLeod said families visiting other ill children have also been 'harassed and discomforted' on the grounds of the renowned hospital in London. Charlie's parents have lost all previous court cases, including one before the European Court of Human Rights, which were designed to force the hospital to let them bring their son to the United States for an experimental treatment. The loss in the European court, following an earlier defeat in Britain's Supreme Court, seemed final. But both Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump expressed an interest in Charlie's fate, and the hospital asked for a new court hearing because of what the family claimed was new medical evidence. Charlie has been examined by Dr. Michio Hirano, an American neurology expert from Columbia Medical Center in New York who has designed the proposed experimental treatment. The doctor's findings are expected to figure heavily in Monday's court proceedings, as are the results of Charlie's recent brain scans. A lawyer representing the hospital said in a brief hearing Friday that the latest brain scan results make for 'sad reading.' That prompted an angry outburst from Charlie's father, Chris Gard, and prompted his mother, Connie Yates, to burst into tears.
  • The Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak, a prominent figure in the controversy over Russia's possible involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, has ended his assignment in Washington. The Russian Embassy in Washington announced on Twitter that Kislyak's tenure ended on Saturday. Kislyak's successor has not been announced, although it is widely expected to be Anatoly Antonov, a deputy foreign minister and former deputy defense minister seen as a hardliner regarding the United States. President Donald Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned after lying about contacts with Kislyak. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election after reports that he had not disclosed meetings with Kislyak.
  • President Donald Trump's new communications adviser says it's time to hit the 'reset button.' Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci pledged to begin 'an era of a new good feeling' and said he hopes to 'create a more positive mojo.' He also promised to crack down on information leaks and pledged to better focus the message coming from the White House. To that end, Scaramucci suggested changes to come, noting: 'I have in my pocket a radio studio, a television studio, and a movie studio. The entire world has changed; we need to rethink the way we're delivering our information.' Trump announced Friday that Scaramucci — a polished television commentator and Harvard Law graduate — would take over the administration's top messaging job. The appointment came as the president contends with sinking approval ratings and struggles to advance his legislative agenda. The president has also been frustrated with the attention devoted to investigations of allegations of his election campaign's connections to Russia. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer abruptly resigned in protest over Scaramucci's appointment. He will be replaced by his former deputy Sarah Huckabee Sanders. The challenges for Scaramucci's new role were evident in a series of interviews, where he discussed his plans for press strategy, but was beset by questions about the Russia investigation and the president's Twitter feed. The president frequently opts to directly speak to the public via Twitter. Scaramucci stressed on Fox that he would 'let the president be the president,' adding that he wants to 'help aid and abet his agenda.' On the Russia stories, Scaramucci said on Fox that a 'two-pronged approach' was needed, saying that 'in some ways we want to deescalate things and have there be a level of diplomacy. In other ways, we want it to be very hard-hitting and war-like.' Asked about the president's tweets about the investigation on CBS' 'Face the Nation', Scaramucci said 'if he thinks it's helpful to him, let him do it.' He also said on CNN's 'State of the Union' that 'we're going to defend him very, very aggressively when there's nonsensical stuff being said about him. And he will probably dial back some of those tweets.' Scaramucci also said on CNN that an unnamed person told him that 'if the Russians actually hacked this situation and spilled out those e-mails, you would have never seen it.' He then said he was quoting the president, adding that 'he basically said to me, hey, you know, this is -- maybe they did it. Maybe they didn't do it.' U.S. intelligence agencies have accused the Russian government of meddling through hacking in last year's election to benefit Trump and harm Clinton, and authorities are exploring potential coordination between Moscow and the Trump campaign. On CNN, Scaramucci called Sanders 'phenomenal' and also said he 'loved the hair and makeup person that we had on Friday. So, I would like to continue to use the hair and makeup person.' He later took to Twitter to stress that he was referring to his own hair and makeup, adding 'I need all the help I can get! #humor' On Saturday, Scaramucci said he was deleting old tweets. Some of the tweets were at odds with Trump's views, including one that praised Hillary Clinton's competence. Trump defeated Clinton for president last year and continues to criticize her, including in several tweets Saturday. Scaramucci said on Fox that the old tweets were 'a total distraction.' He added: 'When I made the decision to take this job, my politics and my political ideas do not matter at all. What matters is that I am supporting -- subordinating all of that to the president's agenda.
  • Crews contending with triple-digit temperatures slowed the spread of an aggressive wildfire that destroyed dozens of homes in a rural area of California near Yosemite National Park, officials said Sunday. The blaze burning for a week has scorched just over 119 square miles (308 square kilometers) of dense brush and dead trees in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Many evacuated residents were allowed to return, but flames continue to threaten about 1,500 homes in Mariposa County. The fire was 45 percent contained, but officials said it could take crews another two weeks to fully surround it. 'They are still out in front of an uncontrolled fire, but the fire isn't moving at 30 mph (48 kph). The fire is crawling along,' fire spokesman Brandon Vaccaro said Saturday. Flames spared Mariposa, a historic Gold Rush-era town, but more than 130 buildings, including 63 homes, were destroyed. More than 5,000 firefighters fought the blaze using air tankers and fleets of helicopters and bulldozers. The fire grew by up to 47 square miles (122 square kilometers) a day at its peak. But by the weekend, the growth rate was slowed despite dry, blistering weather, Vaccaro said. The smoke blurred the scenic vistas of Yosemite National Park, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) west of the fire. Tourists expecting the grandeur of falls and granite peaks instead saw hazy gray silhouettes. Some roads remained closed. But Mariposa, with a population of about 2,000, was coming back to life. Steve Valdez was back at work Saturday at a hardware store despite losing his home of 17 years to the fire. 'There are people out there who depend upon us to get power, to get water, to get their equipment fixed,' he said. Valdez, 60, and his wife had 20 minutes to grab a few photographs, bills and some family Bibles before they fled the encroaching flames. When they returned, only the home's chimney was still standing. They plan to rebuild. The fire was one of more than a dozen that have ravaged California in recent weeks. To the south, officials have finally lifted all remaining evacuations in a stubborn fire burning for more than two weeks in the mountains of Santa Barbara County. The blaze, which destroyed 16 homes, is 87 percent and hasn't grown in size for several days.
  • The mother of a 5-year-old boy who drowned Friday while attending a day camp in south Fulton County, Georgia, broke down Monday morning as she talked about her son’s death. “I paid them to kill my baby,” Ayisat Idris-Hosch, the mother of Benjamin 'Kamau' Hosch III, said during a press conference at her attorney’s office. >> Read more trending news Kamau and other children at Camp Cricket Summer Day Camp were taken for lunch near a waterfall and rock ledge at the Cochran Mill Nature Center in Chattahoochee Hills on Friday, said Ryan Julison, a spokesman for the law offices of Stewart, Seay & Felton.  According to a statement from the law firm, the children were allowed, without prior parental consent, to slide on a waterfall and swim. Kamau could not swim, Julison said in the statement. “Kamau’s parents would not have allowed him to slide on a waterfall or swim without his life jacket,” he said. Kamau went missing for up to 45 minutes, Julison said. Fairburn police assisted Chattahoochee Hills police in the search for the child, Deputy Chief Anthony Bazydlo told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Attempts to reach Chattahoochee Hills police have been unsuccessful so far. A volunteer discovered Kamau in a small pool of water, according to reports. The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office early Monday confirmed his death with The AJC. Kamau’s parents and their attorney spoke about their son’s death Monday morning during a press conference at their attorney’s office. “This isn’t an accident,” Atlanta attorney L. Chris Stewart said. “This is gross, insane negligence.' The investigation into the incident is ongoing.