Deep Red ‘Natural’ Additive



Cochineal Extract may appears in the ingredient list of products under alternate names such as  Carmine, Cochineal Dye, Carminic Acid, Crimson Lake, Carmine Lake, E10, Coccus Cactil, Carmine 5297, Natural Red 4, Natural Dyes, Carminic Acid Lake, C.I. 75470, Natural pigments etc.



What is it made up of?

Crushed dried bodies of  female Costa insects

What is it used for ?

Deep – Red Coloring in food. It’s used as a ‘natural’ color

Which ingredient list might contain this?

Food, Supplements and Cosmetics

Are they harmful?

They are known to cause allergies and other health issues


Flavored yogurt, cranberry juice, ice cream , candies, coral pink and red shades in cosmetics

Flash News?

In March 2012, Starbucks had changed their recipes for Strawberries and Cream Frappuccinos to include Carmine as a color additive. Whirlwind ensued because vegetarians did not want dead beetles in their drink. A petition forced the giant coffee chain to revert back to using food based color.

Technically, the companies use this since it just makes it to the natural extract boundaries. But not everyone will appreciate blissful ignorance on this. The Food and Drug Administration(FDA) requires the declaration of Carmine in the ingredients list so that people who are allergic to these color additives can stay miles away. Probably it’s something for vegetarians and vegans to look out for as well.


References :

1) Dessy, Mira. (2017). “The Pantry Principle: How to read the label and understand what’s really in your food”. Versadia Press, Texas.

2)Acero S, Tabar AI, Alvarez MJ, Garcia BE, Olaguibel JM, Moneo I. Occupational asthma and food allergy due to carmine. Allergy. 1998;53(9):897-901. doi:10.1111/j.1398-9995.1998.tb03998.x

3) Andreozzi, L., Giannetti, A., Cipriani, F., Caffarelli, C., Mastrorilli, C., & Ricci, G. (2019). Hypersensitivity reactions to food and drug additives: problem or myth?. Acta bio-medica : Atenei Parmensis(3-S), 80–90.

4) Image from

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