Know What's in Your Food

Promoting awareness and change about the food we eat, and where it comes from.

Carmine Food Coloring

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Yoplait Strawberry Yogurt that contains carmine from ground up beetles

Yoplait Yogurt

Would you  eat strawberry yogurt that contained pulverized beetle body parts? Would you consider purchasing a box of Kellogg’s Pop Tarts that contain ground up beetles? Probably not. Food manufacturers are aware this might be a turn off, so they cleverly disguise this very thing by calling it carmine.  Take a look at your ingredient list, for foods that are naturally colored red, they may contain carmine. Carmine is made from the cochineal beetle. The process for making dye from the beetles starts with thousands of cochineal beetles  that are collected and dried.  After drying,  the abdomen and fertilized eggs of the insects are separated from the rest of the body.  The abdomen and fertilized eggs contain the most red color of the beetle. The abdomen and  fertilized eggs are then ground into powder and cooked at a high temperature. The final product contains the settlement of the beetles at the bottom and a red clear liquid. The liquid is used as natural food coloring.

Now for a look at the ingredients of the Yoplait Yogurt box…

Yoplait Yogurt Ingredients that contain carmine from cochineal beetles

Yoplait Yogurt Ingredients

Carmine is listed twice. Once in the strawberry flavor, and again in the banana strawberry flavor. Yoplait and Pop Tarts are not the only food sources for carmine. Carmine is frequently found in ice cream, yogurt, juice drinks, and other foods. Food manufacturers are already aware that people are becoming aware of what carmine is. So they have come up with other clever labels for the same product such as, Crimson Lake, Natural Red 4, C.I. 75470, Cochineal, and E120. Many people think that yogurt is a healthy source of vegetarian protein, but when carmine is added as food coloring, it is no longer vegetarian.

Here is a picture of the Kellogg’s Wild Strawberry Pop-tarts ingredients…. I guess they consider it “wild” because the beetles they used to make it are found in the wild ?

Ingredients for Kellogg's Wild Poptart Ingredients

Kellogg’s Wild Strawberry Poptarts

What You Can Do To Make A Difference:

  • Take charge and know what’s in your food by reading ingredient lists and don’t purchase products that contain carmine.
  • Contact food manufactures and ask them not to use carmine to color foods(there are plant options that can be used for coloring.)
  • Let others know about the use of carmine in foods.

 Natural flavoring can be just as gross. You can read my previous post here on natural flavoring.

Sources: Natural News and Center for Science in the Public Interest.

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Author: knowwhatsinyourfood

I am a novice food investigator, researcher, and activist. I have a passion for knowing where the food we eat comes from, and the choices we have to make it better.

7 thoughts on “Carmine Food Coloring

  1. I agree with this post.. carmine is in a LOT of products. I’m surprised it’s in so many items – if people actually knew, I don’t think they would continue to use or buy that item. And you’re right, the companies trick you into thinking it’s nothing!

  2. I agree Stephanie. If people knew, I don’t think they would continue to buy either. It is ashame we have to put so much research into reading a label.

  3. How did they get away with using it in the first place. Where is our fail safes, our protectors?

    • Margaret,

      The FDA, unfortunately, allows the uses of Carmine and many other questionable ingredients. They put the ownership of proving safety of a food ingredient on the company that makes it. That doesn’t seem right, does it? Many ingredients are proven unsafe or questionable much later down the line. As for the gross factor of bugs in our food. This used to be allowed under the title of, “artificial coloring” or “coloring added”. Thanks to a petition in 2009 from the Center For Science In The Public Interest, to the FDA, labels today, must show carmine or cochineal extract on the ingredient list.

  4. I WILL NEVER BUY PRODUCTS WITH CARMINE IN IT I DIDN:TKNOW ABOUT IT UNTILL YESTERDAY IT WAS ON OUR LOCAL NEWS IT MAKES ME SICK TO THINK OF WHAT I HAVE EATEN WITH THAT IN IT > WHAT ABOUT OTHER FOODS THAT LIST COLORANT ADDED> THAT IS NOT RED>>THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE THAT DONT KNOW ABOUT THIS>

  5. I am glad you local news station is reporting it. I wish they all would. If they did, food manufactures would hear from thousands of people overnight. They would stop putting this stuff in our food. I encourage you to be proactive and contact any food makers that you find that have this gross indgredient in their product and voice your concern. Do forget, it isn’t just carmine that is gross. Be sure to read my other articles:

    http://knowwhatsinyourfood.com/2013/06/03/is-that-apple-youre-eating-vegetarian/

    http://knowwhatsinyourfood.com/2013/04/20/whats-in-your-flavor/

    You will find out more about candies that are made with a bug ingredient. Also, many “natural flavors” come from the rear end of animals.

  6. Reblogged this on Know What's in Your Food and commented:

    One of my most viewed posts.. The source of Carmine Food Coloring.

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