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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.

  1. AnneInMpls Mar 1, 2009 07:46 PM

    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!



    1 Reply
    1. re: AnneInMpls
      monku Mar 1, 2009 07:53 PM

      Interesting that one of the posts you referred to says that cochineal and carmine are certified Kosher colors.

    2. c
      corgette Mar 1, 2009 07:51 PM

      I'm surprised people still don't know this.

      7 Replies
      1. re: corgette
        evewitch Mar 1, 2009 08:11 PM

        My roommate and I were discussing this a week ago. I don't know why it came up, but he didn't know either.

        1. re: evewitch
          corgette Mar 1, 2009 09:33 PM

          I had always assumed it was common knowledge in the realm of food history. Then again, people apparently are still shocked that Coca Cola actually contained *gasp* cocaine in its original formula.

          1. re: corgette
            Passadumkeg Mar 2, 2009 02:01 AM

            Corgie, Coca Cola is still the largest legal user of coca leaves, but they are "detoxed".

            1. re: Passadumkeg
              corgette Mar 2, 2009 03:27 AM

              Well Marky, thanks! That sure is interesting.

              1. re: Passadumkeg
                alkapal Mar 2, 2009 05:14 AM

                things *do* go better with coke!

            2. re: evewitch
              Ruth Lafler Mar 1, 2009 10:07 PM

              I don't know why it's suddenly a big deal, but I remember last week listening to something where some woman was talking in horrified tones about "bug parts" in cosmetics and acting like it was unsanitary and dangerous. All I could think was, how stupid!

              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                soypower Mar 2, 2009 02:14 AM

                My cousin tried to gross me out with this information today. But for some reason, it didn't bother me. I figured it would be better using all natural bug parts than some potentially cancer-causing chemicals...

          2. flylice2x Mar 1, 2009 08:19 PM

            Love the stuff...not artificial...real protein...

            1. monku Mar 1, 2009 08:25 PM

              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.

              1. Kajikit Mar 2, 2009 09:55 AM

                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.

                1. chowser Mar 2, 2009 11:01 AM

                  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.

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