updated - June 6, 2020 Saturday EDT
Ever wondered what gives yogurts that red color? It turns out its nothing else by bugs.
Strawberry, Cherry, Boysenberry and Raspberry flavors of Dannon's "Fruit on the Bottom" line get their color from an insect, a U.S. non-profit group says. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Dannon uses "dried, pulverized bodies of cochineal insects" to provide a pink hue to several of its red berry flavors.
The smashed bug bodies are part of a chemical called carmine, which can trigger moderate to severe allergic reactions in "a small percentage" of consumers. Dannon does not deny the charges and said that "any of our products that contain carmine clearly list it as an ingredient," according to the Huffington Post.
The dye is used in the Strawberry flavor of Dannon's Oikos brand of Greek yogurt, two flavors of Dannon's Light and Fit Greed use the extract, along with six of its Activia yogurts.
"Given the fact that ... [it's] easy to use safer, plant-based colors, why would Dannon use it at all?" CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson said of the ingredient in a press release. "Why risk offending vegetarians and grossing out your other customers?"
According to the report, the cochineal is a scale insect native to tropical and subtropical South America and Mexico. It lives on cacti and produces carminic acid used make carmine dye used as a food coloring and for cosmetic such as lipstick.
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