Red Velvet Cake, Strawberry Frappuccino, ice cream or yogurt...... is your mouth starting to water yet? What do all of these have in common? You may be eating insects!!
The "natural" red coloring..... Carmine is, indeed, natural. It comes from the very tiny, female Cochineal insects farmed mostly in Peru and is a vital source of income there. These insects are dried and then crushed to obtain the red coloring. It takes up to 70,000 insects just to produce 500g, or one pound, of dye.
Products containing Carmine
- Ice cream
- Children’s snacks
- Cake mix
- Red Velvet Cake
- Juices (red drinks)
- Yoplait Strawberry, other red fruit
- Cosmetics and Personal Care Products
- Lip sticks
- Nail Polish
- Pill coatings
How to recognize Carmine in ingredients
- Cochineal extract
- Carminic acid
- Natural Red 4
- Crimson lake
- Carmine lake
Carmine is considered to be "safe". However, if you are vegan or just not liking the idea of ingesting bugs, there are other natural ways to color foods that may be more appealing.
Starbucks used to use carmine in some of its iced coffees, smoothies and cakes. However, in 2012, Starbucks announced it would be switching to the natural tomato-based extract, lycopene. Extracts from berries, radishes, and beetroot are other natural food coloring alternatives.
Burt's Bees used to be my go-to for favorite lip balm and lip gloss products until they were bought out by another company and their ingredients no longer met my needs. They, too, use carmine in their ingredients.
One thing interesting about cosmetics, however, are "iron oxides". It seems the "synthetic" is far more safer than the "natural" is. The natural iron oxides are found to have "heavy metals" in them. Aren't heavy metals a constant source of toxicity in our bodies that we are trying to get rid of? So, finding a cosmetic with the "synthetic iron oxides" is definitely the safer way to go.
There are certainly many food and cosmetic companies that do not use carmine or natural iron oxides in their products. Young Living's Seed to Seal guarantee makes them a fan favorite for this girl when it comes to products of all kinds.
In fact, you can find some of my favorite cosmetic and personal care products here including a "red drink" that is so "anti-oxidant" rich and contains "no carmines"!