Last month we looked at the natural colouring Annatto, a yellow colouring and this month we're looking at what is used to make the color red - Carmine or otherwise known as Carminic Acid, Cochineal, 120 or Natural Red 4.
This actually is technically another natural food colour as it comes from Insects ... yes you read that right! It is a female cochineal bug harvested mainly in Peru and the Canary Islands on Plantations where they are sun dried, crushed and dunked in an acidic alcohol solution to create the vibrant red that you enjoy in your candy and soft drinks.
Until recently, cochineal was termed a "natural color" on ingredients lists, however now that it's found to provoke severe allergic reactions in some people thought to possibly be allergic to the protein in the beetle, many countries are now identifying it in ingredients lists.
Aside from its role as an allergen, cochineal is not kosher friendly. It is also synthetically manufactured and is known as Red No. 2 or Red No. 40 when this is the case. When created artificially it is derived from coal or other petroleum by products. Maybe bugs doesn't seem so bad after all!!
So what effects may occur to those sensitive to this chemical:
- Severe Allergic Reactions - Anaphylaxis
- Toxic to Embryos
Cochineal or Carmine can be found in the following products:
- cosmetic products like lipstick
- As pill coatings and in children's medicines
- Cordials and Soft Drink
- Flavored Milks