Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Got Bugs?

Got bugs?

Got waffles, lipstick, yogurt, or strawberry milk? How about candy, shampoo and nail polish?

The FDA says scattered allergic reactions are the basis for the rule concerning dye derived from the crushed cochineal bug.

Unknown and unnoticed by most consumers, the juice of a tiny beetle first used by 16th century Spanish explorers is responsible for red, pink, orange, and purple coloring in hundreds of U.S. products.

Now, the Food and Drug Administration has decided to make food and cosmetic manufacturers identify the buggy source of carmine or cochineal extract, which may be identified only as “color added” in a product’s list of ingredients.

There is no way to tell how many products contain the dyes, said Mike Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington: “It can be anything red.”
Or other colors: Cochineal is bright orange, while its more purified form, known as carmine, is vivid red. They also may be found in purple or pink coloring.

Some manufacturers have begun voluntarily listing carmine as an ingredient on packaging. A check of supermarket shelves found both Dannon and Yoplait strawberry yogurts stating “colored with carmine” on their labels. And cosmetics manufacturer Aveda markets lipsticks free of “bright magenta red pigment extracted from the boiled, dried, or crushed shells, wings and eggs of the female beetle Coccus cacti.”

So, here’s the question for the day: Does the use of bug juices bother any of you?

Had you rather know or would you just rather eat away and not think about it?

Comment as you dare.


  1. It doesn't bother me. My mom used to say that there was not telling what all germs I ate growing up. I grew up near Pittsburgh (Go Steelers!) and we were inundated with mill dust. How much of that did I ingest? And who knows what you just ate had before you had it?

  2. OK, here's a "missionary story".

    A first term missionary won't eat bread that had bugs baked in it.

    A second term missionary picks the bugs out and eats the bread.

    A third term missionary notices the bugs, but eats them anyway.

    A fourth term missionary no longer notices the bugs and eats the bread.

    A retired missionary wonders why "Wonder Bread" just doesn't have the flavor of "native bread".

  3. Yes Bill, I understand. As a kid, we played in dirt and probably ate our fair share of dirt. And what boy, in his right mind, ever washed his hands before eating!

  4. Rick...thanks for sharing from your perspective. I've heard similar stories to that from other missionaries.

    You all are brave souls!

  5. Sure, the dyes and colorings of the food products make the foods more visually appealing, and companies have been v ery careful when chaning colors.

    Do you recall a few years back when the M&M's when black-n-white for a few months? It's because they changed the coloring to slightly different shades and they needed us to have several months with the memory-clearing black-n-white colors so we wouldn't notice the colors were slightly different shades. Probably cheaper to manufacture.

    Plus with the cancer scare of Red #5 many years ago, it really brought some attention to that industry that what they use to color products matters.

    Generally, I doubt anyone would really want to know how processed food is actually made. If you've seen any of the FDA specs of what's acceptable to be included in all types of meat products - less than "x" parts per million of many kinds of creatures that you wouldn't think should be included, but might have fallen in, and since it's such a small amount, it's ok. Yikes.

    Rick - good one. Sort of "Survivor" meets "Fear Factor" ;-)


Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I can't wait to read what you have written.