Carmine is used in a tremendous number of processed
foodstuffs, including Tropicana
Season's Best Ruby Red Grapefruit
and Dannon strawberry yogurt
, as well as a wide number of cosmetic
It is made from the eggs and body of the cochineal beetle.
In many countries, including throughout the United Kingdom, carmine is listed as cochineal on labels. In the United States, it is either called "carmine," the name of the refined product, or not listed at all. This causes a number of problems for people. For example, vegetarians and vegans eating foods with "natural colors" or "natural flavors" often find that they have been eating beetle-flavored popsicles for years.
In other cases, people have had allergic reactions to the ingredient. Many do not know what carmine is or know that it can cause allergic reactions, so they continue to be exposed to it via their snacks or lipstick. The Center for Science in the Public Interest notes that carmine has "caused allergic reactions that range from hives to life-threatening anaphylactic shock. It is not known how many people suffer from this allergy." They urge allergists who have (or have had) patients who are allergic to carmine or cochineal extract to call their Carmine Allergy Clearinghouse at 1-888-653-7872.
Meanwhile, remember: just because it's natural doesn't mean you wanna put it in your mouth.