|Dried cochineal beetles - Source: Wikimedia|
- Classified as a natural food colour.
- Is bright red in colour but can vary according to extraction method.
- Derived from the crushed and dried carcasses of the cochineal beetle, therefore not vegan or vegetarian friendly.
- The red colour comes from carminic acid that the beetle produces to protect against other insects.
- It is stable in heat, light and oxygen, which means the colour won't fade easily.
- It is used in food, cosmetics, industrial and household items:
- Pink lemonade, ruby red grapefruit juice, orange and strawberry juice, tropical juice or pomegranate juice.
- Protein shakes and energy drinks.
- Fruit cups.
- Cookies, candy and gum.
- Yoghurt and sorbet.
- Port wine cheese.
- Rice and beans.
- Frozen meals.
- Is used to colour ruby-red juices, like pink grapefruit juice.
- Cochineal is what makes Starbucks Strawberry Frappuchino the colour it is.
- Rolaids, cough drops and vitamins.
- Can be used to colour artificial flowers.
- Some paint can contain cochineal.
- Can be used to dye microbiological slides.
|Cochineal - Source: Wikimedia|
- It is possible to be allergic to it. It is a contact allergen (causes allergic dermatitis in some individuals) and ingestion may also cause an allergic reaction in some individuals.
- The Hyperactive Children's Support Group recommends that cochineal is eliminated in children with hyperactivity.
- Research studies on the adverse effects have had mixed results. One study shows no effect while another did.
- The FDA now requires carmine/cochineal to be listed on food labels intended for human use.
- Not suitable for vegetarians or vegans.
- Not certified as Kosher by the Jewish community.
- Not a Halal food item.
Chung, K., Baker JR, J. R., Baldwin, J. L. and Chou, A., 2001. Identification of carmine allergens among three carmine allergy patients.. Allergy, 56(1), pp. 73-7.
Farnam, A., 2012. Starbugs? Strawberry Frappuccino Colored by Insects. [Online] Available at: http://news.yahoo.com/starbuggs-strawberry-frappuccino-colored-insects-162910712--abc-news.html [Accessed 26 March 2012].
FDA, 2009. Guidance for Industry: Cochineal Extract and Carmine: Declaration by Name on the Label of All Foods and Cosmetic Products That Contain These Color Additives; Small Entity Compliance Guide. [Online] Available at: http://www.fda.gov/ForIndustry/ColorAdditives/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/ucm153038.htm [Accessed 13 March 2012].
Food Facts Inc, 2012. foodfacts.com. [Online] Available at: http://www.foodfacts.com/index.cfm [Accessed 13 March 2012].
Grant, D., Gaunt, I. F. and Carpanini, F. M., 1987. Teratogenicity and embryotoxicity study of carmine of cochineal in the rat.. Food Chem toxicol, 25(12), pp. 913-7.
Guided Wasy Technologies, 2012. Halal Food Guide. [Online] Available at: http://www.guidedways.com/halalfoodguide.php# [Accessed 13 March 2012].
Judaism 101, 2012. Kashrut: Jewish Dietary Laws. [Online] Available at: http://www.jewfaq.org/kashrut.htm [Accessed 13 March 2012].
NATCOL, 2011. What are natural food colours?. [Online] Available at: http://www.natcol.org/What%20are%20natural%20food%20colours [Accessed 5 Marcy 2012].
Tanaka, T., 1995. Reproductive and Neurobehavioral Effects of Cochineal Administered To Mice in the Diet. Toxicology and Industrial Health, 11(1), pp. 1-12.