Today ’s Belleville News Democrat brings us a nauseating little nugget about the food ingredient named “Carmine”:
Scan the package ingredient list next time you buy candy, ice cream or beverages with a reddish hue. The color may have come from ground-up insects.
That’s right. Instead of artificial red dyes, some food manufacturers list “natural” colorings called “carmine” or “cochineal.”
The pigments are derived from female cochineal insects, which are raised on farms in Peru, Mexico and the Canary Islands. It takes 70,000 of them to make one pound of carmine, according to the Wall Street Journal. The abdomens and eggs of the females contain the most intense color; those parts are dried, ground and heated to produce the dye.
Carmine is in the box of pink and white Good & Plenty candy I have sitting on my desk. It’s in the Dannon Fruit on the Bottom boysenberry yogurt I had for lunch last week. It’s in the Tropicana Orange Strawberry Banana juice I recently served to overnight guests.
Not all manufacturers that use carmine or cochineal are upfront about it on the package ingredient list. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows some food tints to be obfuscated under terms like “color added” or “artificial color.” So the snack you are eating may have bug bellies in it. You just don’t know it…
…Besides the products listed above, you can find carmine and cochineal in some Popsicles, strawberry milk drinks, port-wine cheese, artificial crabmeat, cherries in fruit cocktail, caviar, fruit drinks, yogurt and the alcoholic aperitif Campari, according to the Federal Register.
Wikipedia chimes in:
A request from the Center for Science in the Public Interest to require ingredient labels to explicitly state that carmine is derived from insects was declined by the FDA. Food industries were aggressively opposed to the idea of writing “insect based” on the label and they finally agreed to simply putting “carmine”.
“Carmine”, the most euphemistic food name since “gelatin” was coined as a substitute for “cow or pig bones, hooves, and connective tissues“
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