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FYI: You Might Be Eating Dead Bugs

Profile photo of Whitney-C

Posted October 1, 2013 by Whitney Calk

If you’ve been following along with our “gross shit in food” series, you already know that gelatin and casein are big-time offenders in this arena. Next up is an ingredient that you might never have heard of, but that is about to change. You’re gonna want to go ahead and prepare your gag reflexes.

Carmine = red pigment from the crushed female cochineal insect

Reportedly, 70,000 beetles must be killed to produce one pound of this red dye.

The controversy surrounding the use of carmine as red coloring in some foods is nothing new. Just last year, it was discovered that coffee king Starbucks was using the ingredient in its Strawberry Frappuccino. After a concerned gal from Greenville, South Carolina, started a Change.org petition against the red coloring (which is made from DEAD BUGS, just in case you’ve forgotten), the company agreed to remove carmine from the drink.

The dye, sometimes referred to as Natural Red 4 (but not to be confused with Red 40), can be found in a handful of places, such as:

    • Cosmetics
    • Shampoos
    • Red applesauce
    • Other foods (including red lollipops, yogurt, drinks, and food coloring)

Not only is the thought of devouring dead bugs super-icky, the ingredient has also been known to cause severe allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock in some people. YIKES.

So how can you avoid it?

Simple! Check. The. Ingredients. If you find “carmine,” “cochineal extract,” or “Natural Red 4” listed, drop whatever product you’re holding and head for the hills. Oh, and if you need red food dye for your own culinary purposes, try using beet juice instead!

And because I worry that the gravity of this disgustingness might not have sunk in properly, I’m just gonna leave this here:

 

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  • 503 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    If yall are so against it, why did you kill the bug for the picture?

    • Profile photo of annie-l

      497 days ago

      VN:F [1.9.22_1171]

      8

      The photo is not ours, you can see the credits under the photo.

  • 660 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    2

    I dunno I kinda like escargot, hmmmm hmmm

  • 660 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    4

    I dunno I kinda like escargot

  • Profile photo of dgostev

    674 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]

    1

    Red 40 is also very bad, just so you know.

  • 697 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    7

    I’m a carnivore so meh

  • 698 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    3

    Man is that nasty ewwwww!

  • 698 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    5

    Ew…

  • Profile photo of equivamp

    698 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]

    17

    Who smashes a bug and thinks, “You know what this would be great for? Human consumption. Yeah. Stellar idea.”

  • Profile photo of pikachugeneration1993

    698 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]

    3

    gross and mean

  • Profile photo of alexblue

    699 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]

    1

    Sick stuff! Stay away from Good & Plenty and Runts…they contain it.

  • Profile photo of amazonbear

    699 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]

    3

    Urg, I’ve heard of this stuff before.

    Really creepy, actually, that people use the dead bodies of animals in so many products, even in something like food dye.

  • Profile photo of hakred

    699 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]

    3

    Gross & sad. :/

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