There’s a Bug in Your Yogurt

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Eleven years after scientists determined that carmine and cochineal extracts from the female cochineal bug can cause severe allergic reactions, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a rule (PDF) requiring food companies to list the extracts on their labels. The extracts, used for centuries as a colorant and more recently as a food dye, were previously referred to on labels as “artificial coloring,” making it difficult for those with allergic reactions to pinpoint the source of their suffering. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, which lobbied for the change in labeling after Dr. James Baldwin discovered cochineal derivatives cause allergic reactions, has criticized the new regulation because it still does not require food companies to specifically note that the extracts come from a bug. They express concern that vegetarians and those with religious dietary restrictions should be made aware of the origin of carmine and cochineal extract. Baldwin’s study cited allergic reactions to Campari, red-colored yoghurt and popsicles.

Bugs in Your Food (by Tara Parker-Pope, The New York Times)


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