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Label Able: Carmine

As I was researching ingredients for the yogurt breakdown, the word carmine was on a few containers. Any idea what this is? You may not want to know.

It's actually a bright-red pigment that's obtained from female scaly insects such as the cochineal. It's used in food, artificial flowers, paints, makeup, and ink. Nice. Just what I wanted to be eating. I'm sorry, but last I checked, the strawberries in my yogurt were red, too. So why do they need to add insect pigment to make it even pinker? I guess they figure it will be more appealing to consumers. I'm sure they'd pass it up though, if they knew what was really in their yogurt. No thanks. I'll stick to foods that are naturally colored.

Fit's Tip: If you're creeped out about consuming pigment made from an insect then you should know that carmine is also called Crimson Lake, Cochineal, Natural Red 4, C.I. 75470 or E120.

Join The Conversation
tglynn tglynn 9 years
I learned about this a few years ago, and I'm still eating yogurt. A lot of insect byproducts are used in foods we eat, like honey. I don't see it as harmful or gross.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 9 years
Well, I am a vegetarian, so I don't eat animals, including bugs, so I usually avoid carmine, I wouldn't eat this yogurt anyway because it has gelatin in it too. I really don't understand why this would gross out someone who ate meat though, it's not like you're crunching in to the bugs...I really think it's very inaccurate to describe the coloring as "not natural" though. Perhaps Fit could explain to us what she DOES find natural, and really why is natural the most important quality for a food? I try to buy everything organic, but what does "natural" really even mean? I'm wondering what the FDA definition is...
Allytta Allytta 9 years
i don't find that disgusting, but it's an issue - here in UK all natural strawberry yogurts are green! nothing pink about them. i don't know what they do to the berries that it makes them look this awful colour, and yes, it's very unappealing. i never bought that yogurt again. so i guess the processes they use destroy the natural colour.
missyd missyd 9 years
j-adore2 j-adore2 9 years
its not any more gross than honey to me...
JessNess JessNess 9 years
I really do not see the big deal with using an insect as a dye. I have been reading up on it and its one of the safest NATURAL dyes around. They use it to dye everything. I would rather have an insect dye than some artificial one created in a chem lab
courtneyd courtneyd 9 years
I'm not 100% sure, but I believe this is used for coloring in organic foods - because the bugs are considered organic, versus whatever chemical is used for coloring that is not organic.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Ick but hey, could be worse...
moonischasingme1 moonischasingme1 9 years
I'd be more worried about the HFCS. If you want a good yogurt, try STONYFIELD FARMS.
Spectra Spectra 9 years
Insect-derived dyes, IMHO, ARE natural. What you want to avoid is Red Dye #40...that's an actual chemical dye that a lot of people are sensitive to. I have no problem eating carmine in my foods...I've eaten whole insects before and they're not exactly a bad food or anything. Lots of people eat them every day with no bad effects.
taratootie taratootie 9 years
Mah, as long as I never get a whole crunchy bug in my food, Im fine. Im not really grossed out by much.
kitkat87 kitkat87 9 years
that is gross, but there are worse additives out there.
superfoxml superfoxml 9 years
Yeah that's gross..alot of additives are even nastier. I hate how companies screw up food by putting in freaky/objectionable additives. Just leave it alone guys! I'm hoping this organic back-to-nature trend starts rubbing off on the big evil food corporations like Kraft, but it probably wont. What I hate most are the "super healthy" items filled with HFCS, trans fats, and all kinds of chemicals...
emily60608 emily60608 9 years
You said you'll stick to foods that are "naturally colored"... well maybe its just me but I would consider a bug "natural"... so I would say its a natural food coloring, not like some weird chemicals mixed together in a lab... right? I also agree with the other posters that eating bugs is not that big a deal although most of us don't do it intentionally!
gabiushka gabiushka 9 years
Look it up in Wikipedia? Cochineal insects dont seem to be harmful, and one thing we know for sure we could be getting protein without the extra hormones chicken has.
HipMom HipMom 9 years
I knew this already, it's in a lot of packaged products. I don't eat packaged products so I'm not really concerned.
michlny michlny 9 years
I love this feature! I always say, the ingredients is the MOST important list on a product's package - food or beauty. It is the most revealing.
sunnytropic sunnytropic 9 years
Ewww gross! Thanks for the tip! I stopped eating Fiber 1 Bars (tasty as they were!) because I looked up what shellac was...
lisabunny lisabunny 9 years
I'm more creeped out by the HFCS
JessNess JessNess 9 years
Of all the artifical things put in food these days a pigment made from insects (BTW something that has been done for thousand of years) is the least of everyone's worries. They are probably adding extra coloring because they are not using the highest quality of strawberries with the best color and its all about the visual appeal. Pink yogurt = strawberry flavored right?
Fit-Mommy Fit-Mommy 9 years
HOLY COW!!!!! I'll skip Dannon's yogurt from now on. Thanks for the information.
Lindira Lindira 9 years
I lika da pink polenta! It doesn't bother me that it's made of bugs. We eat bugs in our sleep all the time. Not the most appetizing idea, granted, but it doesn't seem like it'd be bad for us. "I'll stick to foods that are naturally colored." But if it's made out of insects, isn't that natural?
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
You are aware that the average human consumes bugs on a daily basis. Some accidentally. And some consume them intentional. And if you only eat organic veggies and fruits you are more like to consume even more insects. Nothing better than when I was eating my organic broccoli from Whole Foods that I had washed so carefully to remove the dirt. Then I bit a floret and realized there was something very non-broccoli tasting in my steamed broccoli. Yeah a lovely white wormy thing. Harmless and clean but gross none the less. Grossed out yes. Then I thought eh people in Africa and part of Asia eat bugs for protein and good health they aren't complaining. Oh yeah Guava juice gets its lovely deep pink blush from bugs as well. That news was disclosed back in the 80s.
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