When you take a nice big yummy scoop of your favorite strawberry yogurt and you see that appetizing red color you naturally think it’s because of the juicy red strawberries inside, right? Well……actually it could be bugs – YES BUGS – giving it that red color. If you see carmine on the label, it is actually the pulverized, dead bodies of cochineal insects. While this may be considered a more “natural” way to color food by some, it’s a very dangerous situation for others.
Many people object to the use of carmine (aka those ground up bugs) because they eat a vegetarian/vegan diet, but for others it can trigger a dangerous allergic reaction. Who needs bugs? Just add more berries!!
Some companies who previously used carmine to color their products have switched to better alternatives. Starbucks moved away from carmine and now uses tomato lycopene powder. Others make their products naturally red with beet juice or berry puree.
Dannon yogurt continues to use carmine in its Fruit on the Bottom, Light and Fit Greek, Oikos, and Activia yogurts. Citizens for Health is urging all consumers to sign a petition asking Dannon to remove carmine from its products or, at the very least, indicate on the packaging that the uncommon ingredient is derived from an insect. You can make your voice heard and sign the petition HERE.