Exercise Caution When Buying Mexican Vanilla or Vainilla

We live in Nova Scotia, Canada, so I find it odd when a number of people tell me they bring back “really cheap” Mexican Vanilla!

So, when I read this FDA Government article, I thought I owed it to my friends, family, and others, to help spread the word…

According to the US FDA, “Tourists tempted to pick up bargains south of the border should beware of one bargain that isn’t a good buy—a so-called “vanilla” flavoring or extract that isn’t vanilla flavoring or extract at all, but instead is made from a completely different plant material that contains coumarin. Coumarin is a substance with potential toxic side effects banned from food in the United States.” http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm048613.htm

Apparently this flavouring product may smell like vanilla extract, taste like vanilla extract, and be offered at a cheap price, but it could present a significant risk to some people’s health!

Pure vanilla flavoring and extract are
made with the extract of beans from the vanilla plant,
a type of orchid that grows as a vine.


The coumarin containing product is
made from the extract of beans from the tonka tree.


Tonka Bean Extract contains coumarin, which is related to warfarin!

Eating food containing coumarin may be especially risky for people taking blood-thinning drugs because the interaction of coumarin and blood thinners can increase the likelihood of bleeding!

That is one reason the US FDA has banned Coumarin from food products sold in the United States. Yet the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) occasionally has found tonka bean extract products containing coumarin in some stores and restaurants in the United States.

Now, as if that’s not enough…

The way I happened to come across this FDA Article was by searching Google for “toxic mexican vanilla” because I believe that the chemical spraying there can be dangerous! However, this seems to be more difficult to substantiate.

However, the FDA does correctly say Vanilla, real Vanilla, does not contain coumarin.

This all makes a good argument for staying away from cheap Mexican Vanilla.

So, I’m glad Watkins relies on Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans…


Whether it’s Watkins Pure Vanilla, or Original Double Strength Vanilla which because of the low alcohol content is classified as “Artificial”, yet contains 95% Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla, Watkins uses Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans.

I feel it important here to discuss the difference between “Pure” and “Artificial”.
Yet, I’d rather have someone, a third party, tell you about this….

So, here’s what Gourmet Sleuth has to say in regards to Pure Vanilla Extract…
“Pure implies natural not artificially derived. Pure vanilla extract is made by “percolating” chopped vanilla beans with ethyl alcohol and water. Manufacturers may use a variety of types and qualities of beans. The process of extraction takes about 48 hours then the mixture is placed in tanks from anywhere from a few days to several weeks. The aged mixture is then filtered, placed in holding tanks and eventually bottled.

Pure extracts may still contain some sugar, corn syrup, caramel, colors as well as stabilizers. Pure vanilla extracts must contain at least 35% alcohol. FDA requirements are a minimum of 13.35 ounces of vanilla beans to a gallon of a minimum of 35% alcohol to 65% water mixture.”

Another great article that discusses the “Categories” and classification of Vanilla as per
FDA regulations requiring that Pure Vanilla Extract contain a minimum of 35% alcohol. can be found here:

Interesting to note, that according to Gourmet Sleuth even when a Vanilla claims to be “Pure” it may still contain some sugar, corn syrup, caramel, colors as well as stabilizers. However, the FDA does require it to have at least 35% alcohol!

So, that said, why would anyone use “stabilizers” in “Pure” Vanilla?

It’s because Pure Vanilla, because it has 35% alcohol, looses it’s strength when heated…
Most cooks know that when you cook with alcohol it dissipates. So, that’s why stabilizers are used, to help preserve flavour when cooking, baking, or later freezing foods with vanilla.

So, that’s why Watkins Original Double Strength Vanilla is classified as “Artificial” because it has a low alcohol content, and yet contains 95% Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans, and yes, stabilizers to help stabilize the flavour when heated.

So, I’m thankful Watkins Original Double Strength Vanilla contains Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans and we don’t have to worry about Mexican Vanilla. It’s also nice to know that with Watkins Double Strength Formula it’s also economical.

So, whether your looking for Pure, Artificial, or Clear, Watkins Vanilla you can find it all at JustGoNatural.com and rest assured, if it’s not up to your liking your fully covered by Watkins Guarantee!

If a Watkins product used in your home is, for any reason, considered not to be satisfactory,
please return the product to Watkins Incorporated for a full refund of your purchase price.

Website Pin Facebook Twitter Myspace Friendfeed Technorati del.icio.us Digg Google StumbleUpon Premium Responsive

   Send article as PDF   

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.