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E120 red food coloring is occasionally listed on food labels as carmine, cochineal or E120. Ok, now get ready for this. There are two principal forms of cochineal dye: cochineal extract which is a coloring made from raw dried and pulverized bodies of insects, and carmine is a more purified coloring made from cochineal.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest in its Chemical Cuisine: CSPI's Guide to Food Additives describes carmine/cochineal extract as follows:

"Cochineal extract is a coloring extracted from the eggs of the cochineal beetle, which lives on cactus plants in Peru, the Canary Islands, and elsewhere. Carmine is a more purified coloring made from cochineal.

"These colorings, which are extremely stable, are used in some red, pink, or purple candy, yogurt, Compari, ice cream, beverages, and many other foods, as well as drugs and cosmetics.

FDA guidelines suggest that if the presence of cochineal extract or carmine in food products is intended for human use that it must be declared prominently and conspicuously at least once in the labeling.

Honestly, the idea of eating something that is made from who knows how many insects being boiled, steamed, or roasted and whatever is enough to convince me to put that package down.

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