Sunday, February 12, 2006

Did You Have Your Beetle Juice Today?

Have you watched Fear Factor on TV as people eat live insects? And did you think, "I'd never do that!" Well, fear is not a factor for you, if you drink Tropicana Ruby Red grapefruit juice or eat certain flavors of yogurt because you are consuming the residue of beetles! I'm not making this up. It's in the Wall Street Journal. - Is There a Bug in Your Juice? New Food Labels Might Say: "Food makers may not want to dwell on it, but the ingredient that gives Dannon Boysenberry yogurt and Tropicana Ruby Red Grapefruit juice their distinctive colors comes from crushed female cochineal beetles.

Pressed by consumer advocates, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to publish a food-labeling proposal online today that would require companies to disclose when a food contains beetle-derived colorings including vivid-red 'carmine' and bright-orange 'cochineal' (pronounced coach-in-EEL). The public has 60 days to comment before a final ruling is made.

Under current FDA regulations, food labels must identify certain man-made colorings by name, such as FD&C Red No. 40. But for carmine, cochineal and other naturally occurring ingredients, companies can use terms such as 'color added' or, oddly, 'artificial color.'"

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington public-health advocacy group, and a small but vocal group of consumers who are allergic to the ingredients have pushed for stiffer rules. Joining the chorus are vegetarians, who don't want to eat insects, and consumers observing kosher dietary practices.

Some of the other products that contain crushed beetles are:

Hershey's Good and Plenty candy
Dannon Fruit on the Bottom: Boysenberry yogurt
Yoplait Thick & Creamy Low Fat Strawberry Yogurt
Tropicana Orange Strawberry Banana Juice
SoBe Orange Cherry Citrus drink

This is not a comprehensive list. Beetles are also found in cosmetics.