There are Bugs in Your Fruit Juice

January 27, 2014

I don’t know many people who would willingly eat bugs, but it’s no secret that many processed foods are crawling with them. You’ll find them listed as ingredients, but it’s not as simple as scanning the list for the word “bugs.” You need to know what you are looking for.

Drink any fruit juice lately? If so, you might have consumed dye made from an insect called cochineal, which is also known as E120, C.I. 75470, carmine/carminic acid, or Crimson Lake. Sometimes it is even listed in ingredients as Natural Red 4. This is particularly disturbing to me because I’ve always assumed “natural” dyes came from berries and things of that nature. It never crossed my mind that someone was intentionally putting crushed bugs in my Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice by Minute Maid. This knowledge is new to me, but these bugs have been making us see red for hundreds of years. The Aztecs used cochineal extract to produce vibrant fabrics long before we began drinking them as “part of a complete breakfast.”

Dactylopius coccus

Carmine is also used as a food dye in ice cream, yogurt, candy, and as a dye in cosmetics like eye-shadow and lipstick. Carmine can cause severe allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock in some people — so there’s good reason to pay attention to those ingredient labels.

When I learned how the cochineal or carmine is prepared, it was stunning to me that this ingredient is cheaper for companies to use than traditional natural dyes like beets, seeds, or berries. According to Wikipedia, to prepare carmine, the powdered scale insect bodies are boiled in ammonia or a sodium carbonate solution. It is then filtered and alum is added to precipitate aluminum salt. Stannous chloride, citric acid, Borax, or gelatin may be added to regulate the formation of the precipitate. (Fun Fact: Did you know substances containing Borax that are imported into the European Union are required to be labeled with the warnings “May damage fertility” and “May damage the unborn child”?)

Other methods of carmine preparation require the boiling of dried insects in water, extraction from engineered microbes, and the addition of egg white, fish glue, or gelatin.

Where do they come up with this stuff?

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Comments (3)

  1. Lois says:

    David, I did know this and it didn’t surprise me in the least. My first career was in cosmetology where I learned surprising facts such as cat urine was being added to bar soaps to hold fragrance and so we wouldn’t be able to smell when the bar went bad. So when I began to do research and found what things were being put in our food when my son was diagnosed with ADD (because of school). I figured, rightly so, that most of his problems in school were probably tied to the foods he was eating. It was easy to turn my children off foods I didn’t want them to eat by showing them what they were made from, like bugs.

    I could tell you things about how commercial breads are made as well after a friend who worked for one company told me what the workers did there.

  2. Shannon says:

    I learned about carmine about 8 years ago and was so upset I called Dannon to complain and beg them to stop adding insects to my favorite yogurt. I was treated with disdain and summarily dismissed so I no longer buy yogurt from them.

    The only point I hope you will explore is your position on Borax. Please do read the attached link, “The Borax Conspiracy,” investigate further into the Curezone website’s iodine forum (third link below), etc., and let us know if it changes your opinion on the substance. It is known to be one of the few readily available, pure substances that binds fluoride in solution, and also escorts it out of the body to help reverse fluoridosis, pineal gland calcification, and reverse parathyroid dysfunction (see second link).

    http://educate-yourself.org/cn/boraxconspiracy03jul12.shtml
    http://wvoutpost.com/2012/03/16/tips-to-avoid-man-made-fluoride-and-how-to-remove-it/
    http://curezone.org/forums/search.asp?q=borax&action=Find&f=815

  3. Katherine says:

    I drink lots of water. that’s my solution. Just dont buy this crapola or make your own. Leomande. Lime. Carrot juices or make your own Kambucha. Hit them in the pockets until they get it right and provide us with QUALITY (hello?!) juices. that’s it. then end. Hit them in Le Pockets!