Are You Eating Food Dyed with Crushed Up Insects?

Are you eating food dyed with bugs? Are you eating food dyed with bugs? Many people get a little queasy when they think about eating bugs. But as I've mentioned before, bugs are popping into the culinary world, from restaurants to protein bars made from cricket flour. If I were to ever try bugs, I'd rather try them in the ground-up form, rather than seeing the actual insect I'm ingesting. But little did I know that I've eaten bugs before - and I'm not just talking about bits of insects that make their way into processed foods.

One food coloring, known as Red Dye 4, cochineal extract or carmine, is made from crushed up insects. While this dye is deemed safe - although you can be allergic to it, which is all the more reason to know about it - it's also a little yucky to think about. And if you're a vegan, kosher, or halal consumer, it's necessary to be informed of the animals that are being used in foods.

Related: 8 surprising foods that could be harming your health

From certain Werther's Original candies to Mentos Rainbow candies and Yoplait strawberry yogurt (been there, done that one!), you'd be surprised where carmine is lurking. I'm a label reader, but I wasn't even aware that carmine was bug-derived. And while it is required to be labeled, if you don't know what the term means, it doesn't do you much good. After all, it's not like there is a sticker on a package that screams "Carmine Means Bugs!" It's all the more reason to avoid foods with dyes in them and to go for less processed fare anyway.

One natural-health consumer group,Citizens for Health, is building a comprehensive list of foods that contain this insect-based food coloring as part of its commitment to transparent and accurate labeling of food products. Check it out to see if any of your favorites are on there. Keep in mind that the use of carmine isn't just limited to food either; check your cosmetics too!

- By Erin Whitehead
For 20 gross, disturbing food facts you'll wish you didn't know, visit Babble!

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