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Mar 1, 2009 07:31 PM

Red Dye Made From Bugs

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.

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  1. 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

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

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

      7 Replies
      1. re: corgette

        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

          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

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

            1. re: Passadumkeg

              Well Marky, thanks! That sure is interesting.

            2. re: evewitch

              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

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

            1. 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. 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.