That lovely red color in your yogurt may come from bug parts

The Buffalo News, July 2010, updated Aug. 21,2010

Seen a fly in your soup lately? Well, that’s nothing compared with what you don’t see in your strawberry yogurt or the sprinkles on your doughnut.

Crushed bugs. You’ve been eating them for years. You just didn’t know it.

That’s right. The “color added” ingredient in some red, pink and purple foods is carmine, the dried and crushed bodies of the female cochineal insect. The cactus-loving insect is used to color ice cream, yogurt, fruit juices and more.

“They’re harvested in Mexico, processed in large plants. I’ve seen them,” said Gary Reineccius, professor of food science at the University of Minnesota.

You may not have known, because they were hiding under the “color added” listing on the label, but you soon will. Starting in January, the Food and Drug Administration is requiring manufacturers to switch from the “color added” label listing to “carmine” or “cochineal extract.”

Consumers should know what’s going into their food “to promote safe, healthy diets,” said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest and part of the effort to require manufacturers to change their product labels.

Ingredients such as carmine have come under fire because they have been known to cause severe allergic reactions in some people. Those allergic reactions, along with a few subsequent lawsuits, have led some manufacturers to stop using carmine.

Other people with dietary restrictions, such as Jews and Muslims, may not consider some products kosher if these ingredients are included. But even those without restrictions might be a little squeamish if they knew just what was going into some of their food. The CSPI wants the FDA to go even further, labeling carmine as insects on packaging. After all, few people recognize carmine or cochineal as something that comes from insects, and even fewer would be curious enough to look it up online or in a dictionary to find out exactly what they’re eating.

People would be disgusted if they knew crushed bugs were in their food, Jacobson said. “We urge the FDA to at least indicate these ingredients are of insect origins, but the industry opposes that because nobody would buy the product.”

Using ingredients like carmine can be deceptive, according to Jacobson, because the color it gives to products makes it appear as though there is real fruit included when there often isn’t.

Some other surprising food ingredients with an ick factor include:

Shellac: The secretions from the lac beetle found in India and Thailand are used to give confections such as Skittles and candy sprinkles a shiny coating.

“Nothing synthetic does this as well,” Reineccius said, adding that, yes, it’s the same shellac that’s used to finish wood. Jacobson said it can also be used on fruits and vegetables to seal them.

Rennet: An enzyme taken from veal calves at the time of slaughter is added to milk to make cheese. At some point in ancient history, someone put milk in a bag made of a calf’s stomach and discovered that it curdled, and cheese was born. A non-animal version is microbial enzyme. It sounds better when it’s listed as “vegetable rennet” on cheese labels.

Honey: The sweetener that’s been used for thousands of years is basically regurgitated pollen. Some prefer it because it’s completely natural, but many might just want to forget where it’s been.

If you’d never imagined ingredients like these being used in your foods, you’d be even more surprised by what Jacobson says your food would look like without these products: Not different at all.

“They’d use some other coloring,” he said. “They need to give it some color, and it just gives it what they consider the right color,


Let’s see what the Torah says about consuming insects…

Scripture reference : Leviticus 11:20-23-

20 All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you.

21Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth;

22Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind.

23But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you.

The Cochineal insect seems to be unclean….see Cochineal insect

It seems so far that when the Torah speaks of the clean insects that can be eaten it is refering to the Orthoptera insect family .



Note: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.Information presented in these pages are not are for information only, these pages are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: