Yesterday we learned that pigments, the chemical compounds that add colour to everything, have to be sourced from somewhere. Some of those sources will gross you out.
You, ma’am, have bugs on your face right now.
Carmine red is a popular pigment for it vibrant red colour. The source of carmine is the Dactylopius coccus, a tiny beetle found in Mexico and South America. Beetle ranchers grow huge fields of cactus to support the beetle population, then they are collected, boiled, dried, and ground into a fine powder. It takes about 70,000 insects to make a pound of this cochineal powder.
This powder gets added to many products as a food-safe pigment. From lipstick and other bright red cosmetics, to adding a vibrant red hue to juice and a huge multitude of “strawberry” flavoured foods such as yogurt. It’s quite likely that you’ve already eaten some beetles today.
Don’t panic. It’s entirely safe, unless you have allergies. However, it does make your yogurt not exactly “vegetarian” friendly.
Most other food pigments are derived from plants. A common green colouring, for example, comes from the sludge that grows inside your fish tank, chlorella algea.
- Source: Red Red Whine – Snopes