color additives, carmine, cochineal extract, allergens, labeling requirements, FDA, public safety

Document Type



Imagine sitting down to breakfast and eating strawberry yogurt with a glass of grapefruit juice. You think you are eating a healthy meal, but along with vitamins, calcium, and nutrients, you are getting a side of crushed beetles. Cochineal extract and carmine, two color additives derived from the cochineal beetle, color many foods such as strawberry yogurt. When people consume products with color additives, most do not realize that they could be ingesting insects, which can also be potentially dangerous, not to mention possibly unappetizing or upsetting. Imagine that one minute you are sitting down to eat a healthy cup of yogurt, and the next minute you are being rushed to the emergency room because of difficulty swallowing, hives, itching, and swelling of the eyelids. This frightening scenario was a reality for one woman who filed an adverse reaction report with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The listing of cochineal extract and carmine, as well as other additives like them, is not required on food labels, and their absence on food labels poses potential risks to consumers who are unaware that they are consuming them.