Beetle Juice! Beetle Juice! Beetle Juice!

2 02 2012


As a self confessed sugar addict, I take no pleasure in what I’m about to do here.  If you love candy, yogurt, juice, baked goods, makeup, shampoo…just close out this page now.  I learned a little known fact today that many of my favorite things are colored with the liquid of squashed, ground up and purified beetles.  The resulting “juice” is known as Carmine.  A less purified version is known as cochineal extract.  Both are used as “natural” dyes.  Because they are “natural”, often times they will be generally labeled as “natural coloring” or “added color”.  Red M&M’s are rumored to be made this way although M&M/MARS denies it.  The truth is though that the FDA does not force them to report it.  Other candy like Willy Wonka’s NERDS are colored this way.  So it Tropicana Grapefruit Juice.  Cranberry Juice and Pink Lemonade can often contain Carmine.  So does Yoplait strawberry yogurt.  Other candies like Sugar Daddies contain Confectioner’s Glaze.  This is a really flowery way to say Shellac which also comes from  ground beetle.  Food Glaze, Resinous Glaze, and Pharmaceutical Glaze are also other names for Shellac.  Sprinkles are often times made with Shellac, as is cake icing.  Some candies like Good & Plenty and many varieties of jelly beans contain both Shellac and Carmine.  Some will argue that its a similar idea to using honey as a sweetener.  The difference is that we are not squashing bees to get the sweet stuff.  This little guy is so helpful in making so many of the things we love look better:

I’m hoping that I’m not getting a soy allergy.  My left hand broke out tonight and was itchy just 20 minutes after eating soy.  I have been eating more soy than any other time in my life so it’s possible.  It would be a shame to add something else to the list of foods that I can’t / shouldn’t eat anymore.  This never happened to me when I was eating NERDS by the box full!  Although for others it has been much worse.  Watch if you are brave enough:



4 responses

11 02 2012

One thing that I don’t entirely agree with with veganism is the use of honey – local honey from a personal hive, that is. My friend has a hive and they are like his garden, he treats every bee respectfully and lovingly.

Squishing beetles on the other hand… no thanks. 😦 Poor beetles.

11 02 2012

I’m deathly allergic to bees so I stay clear! But I hear what you are saying.

28 03 2012

I’m so relieved the news about this “natural” ingredient is finally getting out there to the average people. What most people don’t realize is, not only is Carmine derived from nettle juice, it can also be highly deadly to some people. I have suffered for years with severe allergic reactions tomseveral red or pink foods, most of which are mentioned in your blog. Doctors have never been able to pinpoint what it was that caused the reactions. Last year there was an article in National Geographic explaining the same basic info you’ve also shared, but also how food manufactures can get by labeling it as “natural” ingredients. After reading the magazine article I went back and looked at some of the problem foods & wouldn’t you know it, the common ingredient was CARMINE. Now I try my best to read all labels before eating things that are pink, but sometime slip up. It seems to be primariy in “fruit flavored” candies and yogurts; so when I had some GOOD & PLENTY at work today, I had an anaphylactic shock to them, requiring an epi-pen and Benadryl. This is a real serious problem and I would love my reactions to be publicized so anyone else having reactions can be educated in preventing future reactions. I’m just glad I didn’t eat the whole box of GOOD & PLENTYs today cause it probably would of killed me. Instead I had to leave work early and am home in bed about to conk out from Benadryl.

When you think about it, if it’s so deadly, then maybe it shouldn’t be used at all because you never know who will be next to unknowingly eat it and won’t be able to recover from it. How good nutritionally could it be anyway?!

28 03 2012

Thanks so much for sharing your story. It’s important that people hear stories like yours and become more aware of what they are ingesting. You are right, this can be very deadly for some people. And much of the rest of us think it is absolutely disgusting!

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