Next time you take a bite out of a processed food or drink that's colored red, you might want to think twice...
The Food and Drug Administration proposed Friday requiring food and cosmetic labels to list cochineal extract or carmine if a product's ingredients include either of the two red colorings that have been extracted from the ground bodies of an insect known since the time of the Aztecs.
The widespread use of the dyes in everything from yogurt to lipstick hasn't exactly been well-disclosed: The ingredients typically are listed as "color added" or "E120," the FDA said.
Carmine puts the red in ice cream, strawberry milk, fake crab and lobster, fruit cocktail cherries, port wine cheese, lumpfish eggs and liqueurs like Campari, according to the FDA. Carmine is also used in lipstick, makeup base, eye shadow, eyeliners, nail polishes and baby products, the agency said. Meanwhile, cochineal extract shows up in fruit drinks, candy, yogurt and some processed foods.
Carmine may be prepared from cochineal, by boiling dried insects in water to extract the carminic acid and then treating the clear solution with alum, cream of tartar, stannous chloride, or potassium hydrogen oxalate; the coloring and animal matters present in the liquid are thus precipitated. Other methods are in use; sometimes egg white, fish glue, or gelatine are added before the precipitation. (Wikipedia)
Some pictures of the little beetles can be found here.
CNN.com - FDA: You're eating crushed bug juice - Jan 27, 2006