CARMINE: also called Crimson Lake, Cochineal, Natural Red #40, C.I. 75470, or E120, is a pigment of a bright red color obtained from the aluminum salt of carminic acid, which is produced by some scale insects, such as the cochineal and the Polish cochineal, and is used as a general term for a particularly deep red color of the same name. Carmine is used in the manufacture of artificial flowers, paints, crimson ink, rouge, and other cosmetics, and is routinely added to food products such as yogurt and certain brands of juice, most notably those of the ruby-red variety.
To prepare carmine, the powdered scale insect bodies are boiled in ammonia or a sodium carbonate solution, the insoluble matter is removed by filtering, and alum is added to the clear salt solution of carminic acid to precipitate the red aluminium salt, called "carmine lake" or "crimson lake." Purity of colour is ensured by the absence of iron. Stannous chloride, citric acid, borax, or gelatin may be added to regulate the formation of the precipitate. For shades of purple, lime is added to the alum; thus the traditional crimson color is guaranteed not only by carminic acid, but choice of its chelating metal salt ion.
Is that not the nastiest thing you have ever heard? Crushed insect bodies? Seriously? Gag me. I am not usually one to meddle in what people want to eat, but let me assure you that in yogurt or juice that contains this crap, it DOES NOT say "crushed insects" on the ingredient list. It just says carmine or Red #40. So maybe people just don't know?
We try to eat natural and organic around here (with the exception of my sad and all-consuming addiction to the golden arches), and I try to cook frequently and stay away from processed foods (except Cheez-Itz, but really, can you blame me?), but I am not perfect and do occasionally buy stuff to feed my family that could potentially have carmine in it. And when I found out what it is made from, I vommed in my mouth a little. I mean, I have plenty to worry about without dealing with pulverized insects in my juice. And doesn't everyone? So now you know one more thing about what is in your food. You're welcome.
I guess you could argue that bug bodies are sort of a natural coloring agent, but I'll take beet juice as a red colorant over bugs any day, thank you very much. And since CC is a diva, you KNOW she has something to say about what she eats. Although these days, if it isn't a waffle, she isn't eating it. Sigh. At least they're whole grain. And bug free. Holla.
"I am NOT eating bugs. Sick."