Halloween is this month and that means candy, sweets, lollies! And lots of them. But did you know that all those sugary treats contain massive doses of food additives and preservatives that can be harmful for your children's health?
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
Nothing has frustrated me more in my research on food additives more than this one. Annatto, also known as 160b E160b, Norbixin or Bixin is a natural yellow food coloring often found in foods that are marketed to young children.
So what is so frustrating about this additive, after all it says it's natural right? True it is natural, but it's as natural as arsenic is and we don't sprinkle that on our weetbix! What is frustrating is that foods that were otherwise perfect to be consumed are ruined by this one additive.
You will notice that it will be listed as the last ingredient on most labels of food that you would have been able to give your children happily, but once Annatto is added the product is no longer an option, which to me is a real shame.
It is a shame in that there is an alternative, Betacarotene or 160a, E160a a much safer option and will provide the same desired yellow color. This option is used extensively in Europe but most manufacturers consider it too expensive and difficult to work with compared to the cheaper option of Annatto.
The best option however, is just to be color free, which I'm sure most parents would be happy with if it meant they had another food option for their children.
So what will this ingredient do? Well it has been known to inflict the following symptoms:
- allergic type reactions
- skin rashes
- gastrointestinal upsets
- restricting airways
- central nervous system reactions
- headbanging in young children
- sleep disturbance in both adults and children
- a obsessive attention to all things related with the color yellow (honest!)
The reactions can be same day or have a delayed response.
You can find Annatto in the following food products:
- Granola Bars/Muesli Bars
- Breakfast Cereals
- Snack foods
- Corn chips
- Salad dressings
Bec Taylor is asking her readers, do you like your frozen fries dipped in embalming fluid?
Do you want to throw the perfect colour free birthday party?
Get your tip sheet now!