Unknowingly Eating Insects?
If you are consuming pink or red foods containing the coloring agents carmine and cochineal, you are eating insects! Specifically crushed female beetles found in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, South Africa, and the Canary Islands. Carmine and cochineal are used to color some foods pink or red and tend to be found in juices, cherries in canned fruit cocktails, artificial crabmeat, strawberry milk drinks, and some fruit-flavored yogurts. Other beetle products are used to make confectioner's glaze, an ingredient in the shiny coating of some candies. If you are vegan or vegetarian or just don't want to eat bugs, you will want to avoid food products listing "carmine," "cochineal," or "confectioner's glaze" on labels, and don't buy any pink or red foods whose ingredients include added coloring.
Because they're made from insects, these additives are considered "natural" by the FDA. And as unappetizing as these beetle-derived food colorings may sound, they may not be as dangerous as synthetic food dyes: those chemicals may interact with DNA to accelerate aging and increase the risk of cancer. Many synthetic food dyes once considered safe have turned out to be carcinogenic. On the other hand, the beetle-derived additives are not harmful to most people, though a small number have had allergic reactions to the insect proteins, including flushing, hives, headaches, eczema, sneezing and, rarely, anaphylactic shock.
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