Beetle parts are used to color foods red, pink and purple. Known as cochineal, this food additive is made by drying and crushing the insects into a powder. The insects eat red cactus berries, and when they are crushed, they give off red residue. It takes about 70,000 cochineal insects to make 1 pound (0.45 kg) of red dye. Common foods that include cochineal include yogurt, fruit juice, ice cream and candy. It is also used in non-food items such as lipstick, paint and ink. Before 2009, the additive was typically referred to as natural red 4 on ingredients lists. It was found to cause allergic reactions in some people, however, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began requiring it to be listed as either cochineal or carmine extract.
More about food additives:
- The additive phosphoric acid, which is used to add acidity to soda, is also found in rust remover and hard water stain remover.
- Toothpaste and beer often contain an additive made from seaweed.
- Other red dyes, such as Red #40, are often made from byproducts of coal.