Got crushed bugs in your yogurt or other foods? Ewwww!
Lots of people have that reaction. That’s one reason that a consumer movement asking food and beverage companies to stop using insect-based red food dye known as carmine or cochineal extract is growing.
Thursday, Citizens for Health asked consumers to help build a comprehensive list of foods that contain the buggy ingredient. As part of their commitment to transparent and accurate labeling of food products, Citizens for Health started the list on their website at www.citizens.org.
The organization is also asking consumers to sign a petition started by the Center for Science in the Public Interest http://takeaction.takepart.com/actions/berries-over-bugs-tell-dannon-get-insects-out-yogurt asking food companies to better label products that contain the insect-based ingredient or switch to plant-based alternatives.
Two years ago the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began requiring food and cosmetic manufacturers to list the ingredient made from the juice of a tiny beetle. Before that, it was sometimes identified only as “color added.”
The ingredient, Red Dye No. 4, is found in thousands of common foods and drinks from Dannon and Yoplait yogurts to Tropicana fruit juices. Developing this list will inform Vegans, Kosher and Halal consumers, as well as those concerned about potential allergens, Citizens of Health says.
Some items already on the list include Nestle Nesquik strawberry chocolate cookie sandwich, Nature’s Way Alive Women’s 50 plus vitamins, Hot Pockets Snackers, Betty Crocker Red Velvet Cake Mix, Rainbow Mentos, Harry & David Valentine candy mix and more.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest has worked for about 15 years to get the eye banned. There have been reports of severe allergic reactions to the coloring.
The nonprofit food watchdog group says the practice cheats consumers, who might expect that the fruits named on packages such as Dannon strawberry, cheery, boysenberry and raspberry varieties are providing all the color.
A few months ago Dannon issued a statement that said: “Carmine is a safe, FDA approved, vivid red food color that many food makers use, including Dannon in some of our products, because it delivers the best color throughout the shelf life of the product.”
Besides yogurts, carmine or cochineal extract is found in fake crab and lobster, fruit cocktail cherries, port wine cheese, lumpfish eggs/caviar and liqueurs, candies, ice creams, processed foods and beverages, as well as in drugs and cosmetics.