So, even though the UN is all like, you should totally be eating bugs because world hunger is descending on us, the idea of unknowingly eating crushed red bugs is still kind of gross.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has launched a campaign to ask Dannon to stop using carmine, a common dye made from crushed red bugs, in 13 varieties of yogurt. "It's not the end of the world, but most people would (vegetarians, kosher Jews, others) have no idea they're eating something made from bugs. It's deceptive, since most consumers rightly expect that the advertised fruit is responsible for the color — and not insect extract," Jeff Cronin, CSPI's director of communication, said in an email.
The common consumer expectation, CSPI argues, is that yogurt is naturally colored by the fruit. But "instead of relying entirely on strawberries, raspberries, cherries, or other healthy wholesome fruit, Dannon sometimes uses an extract made from the pulverized, dead bodies of cochineal insects to give its yogurts fruity red colors. It’s deceptive and gross. But for some, cochineal insects (usually labeled as carmine on food labels) can trigger a dangerous allergic reaction," the petition reads.
Carmine has made the news most recently, and is often used in consumer goods looking to obtain a vibrant hue. But "many [companies] have phased it out," Cronin wrote in an email. "Campari, the liqueur, used to be dyed with carmine but now has an artificial dye; Starbucks dropped it a few years ago once people found out it was used in its strawberry smoothies. It's still in some other yogurts, ice creams, drinks, etc. But we were surprised to see it in no fewer than 13 varieties of Dannon yogurt." Check out the petition here.