More bugs?

Cochineal Beetle

Did you eat yet? Because the following may put you off the feedbag for a while.

Ever wonder what the artificial color in food really is? You may not want to know this but if it’s red it might well be crushed bugs.

Yum.

To be more specific crushed female cochineal beetles.

The cochineal beetle, or dactylopius coccus, lives on cactus plants. The female beetles eat the red cactus berries and concentrate the red color in their bodies.

The bugs are scraped off the cactus plant into a vat of hot water, where they die. Their little bodies are then dried and crushed into powder.

It takes a lot of these little suckers to produce color … about 150,000 of them are needed to make a pound of dye. It’s commonly used to color candy, ice cream, lipstick, yogurt, and eye shadow.

Some products that use bug color are Good and Plenty candy, Dannon fruit on the bottom yogurt, Tropicana ruby red grapefruit juice and Sobe courage cherry citrus drink. You probably won’t see made from bugs on the ingredients as the producers are identifying the ingredient as Carmine. And suggestions from some consumer groups that the labeling read insects are being met with – to put it mildly – some resistance.

So the next time you’re spooning in that delicious yogurt, or munching on valentine red candy, stop for a moment and think about all those thousands of little bugs you could be eating. You could be the next star in Fear Factor and not even know it.

Bon appetite!

Go back to today’s Blog post for 1/30/11

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About James Rising

A recovering radio addict wrestles with the written word.
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2 Responses to More bugs?

  1. Dorothy Malone-Risng says:

    the cactus plant you show is called Nopal in Mexico. It helps totreat insulin resistance and is a great non-medicinal treatment for diabetes. It is peeled and used like potato. I suppose if the food turns red some beetles were missed!

  2. James Rising says:

    Yikes. I’ll stick with lizard venom for my type 2.

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