Do you realize that when you use or consume something with “artificial colors” or “colors added,” it’s likely composed of bugs? Foods colored by cochineal bugs are deceptively labeled this way, and products that contain artificial colors are found in everything from cosmetics to foods. Additionally, in case your interested, according to NationMaster, the coloring is acquired by “boiling dried insects in water to extract the carminic acid and then treating the clear solution with alum, cream of tartar, stannous chloride, or potassium hydrogen oxalate.”
If you’re unhappy about bugs in your cookies, the good news is that on January 2, 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) passed a ruling prohibiting manufacturer’s from listing cochineal-colored products under the deceptive names, and, instead, they are requiring that manufacturers of “all foods (including butter, cheese, and ice cream) that contain cochineal extract or carmine specifically declare the presence of the color additive by its respective common or usual name, ‘cochineal extract’ or ‘carmine,’ in the ingredient statement of the food label.”
Apparently, the FDA ruling came after numerous “reports of severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, to cochineal extract-containing food and carmine containing food and cosmetics, and [the new ruling] will allow consumers who are allergic to these color additives to identify and thus avoid products that contain these color additives.” However, as great as that may be, there’s also some bad news. The bad news is the regulation does not go into effect for twenty-four months from the date of the ruling. So, for the next two years, if you buy “color added” or “artificial colors,” keep in mind those products may contain cochineal bug juice.