Red Dye Made From Bugs
- monku Mar 1, 2009 07:31 PM
On Food Detectives they were talking about natural food dyes and the red food dye ingredient is cochineal or carmine. Cochineal is a beetle from Central and South American and they crush the carcasses of the bugs which produces the red color. It's been used for centuries as a dye.
Its found in dozens of foods, beverages and cosmetics. FDA requires they list the ingredient caochineal or carmine because some people may be allergic to it. It's not found in Kosher products because dietary laws prohibit insects or parts in foods.
At the end Ted Allen held up a piece of red velvet cake, but some recipes call for beet juice to give it a red color.
Bugs are tasty! Carmine *used* to provide the red color in my beloved Campari liqueur, but it was changed to artificial coloring about two years ago. Ruined the taste, in my opinion, but now Campari is kosher (and vegan). I'm down to my last drops of the old version - waaa!
Looking at a bottle of red food coloring from Walmart, it has the Kosher OU symbol on the box and the color ingredient is red 40 and 3. Red dye #40 is derived from coal, but #3 according to the FDA can be carcinogenic in lab animals in high doses, but the risk is no larger than 1 in 100,000 over a lifetime of consumption.
It's nothing new... I think I'd rather have a dye made from a natural substance than one made from coal tar or petrochemicals! At least bugs are theoretically edible.
It was listed as "natural dye" but with allergies and vegetarians, I'm glad to hear the FDA has made companies list it. At some point M&Ms and other candy coating were made with shellac, also made from bugs, but many aren't any more. I think apples might still be coated with it.