Reading labels is daunting, but necessary when inspecting a product before you ingest it. A great rule to stick to, is if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it. Especially when ingredient statements seem to be longer than the dictionary.

One ingredient that shows up on a lot of ingredient decks is cochineal. What is this?


According to Wikipedia.:

“Cochineal is one of the few water-soluble colorants that resist degradation with time. It is one of the most light- and heat-stable and oxidation-resistant of all the natural organic colorants and is even more stable than many synthetic food colours.[29] The water-soluble form is used in alcoholic drinks with calcium carmine; the insoluble form is used in a wide variety of products. Together with ammonium carmine they can be found in meat, sausages, processed poultry products (meat products cannot be coloured in the United States unless they are labeled as such), surimi, marinades, alcoholic drinks, bakery products and toppings, cookies, desserts, icings, pie fillings, jams, preserves, gelatin desserts, juice beverages, varieties of cheddar cheese and other dairy products, sauces, and sweets. The average human consumes one to two drops of carminic acid each year with food.[29]

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration rule effective January 5, 2011 requires all foods and cosmetics containing cochineal to declare it on their ingredient labels.[30]

Carmine is considered safe enough for use in eye cosmetics.[31] A significant proportion of the insoluble carmine pigment produced is used in the cosmetics industry for hair- and skin-care products, lipsticks, face powders, rouges, and blushes.[29] A bright red dye and the stain carmine used in microbiology is often made from the carmine extract, too.[15] The pharmaceutical industry uses cochineal to colour pills and ointments.[20]”

Amazing to think this little insect’s shell has so much colouring that it is harvested in massive quantities to fulfil our desire for red coloured items. When you’re consuming red coloured food, you assume the colour is natural, bugs are natural right?



2 thoughts on “What is Cochineal?

  1. I read your article but why did you not say straight at the begining of your article that Cochineal is a food additive derived from an insect. as a vegetarian and considering the cliente you reach I think personally that it would have been clearer if 1st mentioned
    aside from that I love your website and appreciate youe emails and my daughter just loves the omega juicer I recently bought her….shelley

  2. OMG! How can we stop consuming this and still eat healthy without paying for food and juice over budget in Canada?

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