Bug used as Red Dye in Cosmetics and Food now Requires Disclosure

Cochineal colors, used to make red dye for food, beverages and cosmetics, has been mandated for disclosure to consumers, finally being recognized as an allergen by the FDA. Manufacturers of consumer goods are going to have to list the ingredient on their labels, but not until January 5, 2011.

The FDA published the new rule this week, after recognizing that doing so might protect what they term a “small subset” of people from allergic reactions – some severe.

The additives, carmine and cochineal extract are widely used to provide red color to products such as fruit drinks, candy, yogurt, cosmetics and ice cream. Carmine is the extract taken from the cochineal bug. If you squeeze a tiny cochineal bug, it expresses the liquid dye, which then undergoes a pasteurization process to destroy bacteria. Cochineal extract comes from the dried bodies of the female cochineal beetle, and then undergoes further processing. Carminic acid is the principle-coloring agent used in consumer goods, containing cochineal extract and carmine – collectively known as “cochineal colors”.

Allergies to cochineal colors have been well documented. Reactions to the red bug dye include asthma, anaphylaxis, influenza type symptoms, watery eyes and nose, sneezing, diarrhea, chills, vomiting, shortness of breath, and lip soreness and bleeding from cosmetics in sensitive individuals. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) petitioned the FDA August 25, 1998, “to either revoke approval of the colorings or require that they be clearly labeled by name.” read more at emaxhealth