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Is Your Red Colouring a little bit Insectivore?

Is Your Red Colouring a little bit Insectivore?

Red food colouring is made of many things & some of them may surprise you

Putting your lippie back on after lunch? You might be getting a bit more lunch than you paid for today. It is quite possible that the red dye in your lipstick is made from the abdomen of a crushed female cochineal beetle (Dactylopius coccus) in Peru. 

Not that there is anything wrong with eating bugs. Not so long ago, insects were lauded as the future of food for a bulging, over populated, heating planet. And like many other surprising natural additives, they are natural, but if you are a vegan, be aware that you may inadvertently be consuming insects. 

Technically a 'natural dye', cochineal can be found in many red things we consume, including lipstick (listed on the label as carmine, Natural Red No. 4, cochineal extract). 

If you think eating insects is creepy, after you read this list, you'll probably be hoping for beetle abdomen as the alternatives aren't exactly attractive. Red food colourings are generally problematic with most of them, with the exception of E160(a) having some kind of side affect (ranging from dubious to potentially dangerous) - whether plant, petroleum or insect derived. 

Do your research when you buy cosmetics. Your skin absorbs whatever you put on it and your lipstick ends up in your stomach along with everything else that passes your mouth. Red colouring is just one of the many icky and dangerous food additives, but here is a list of 13 that we found.

 Number Name    Origin Number  Name  Origin 
 E120 Cochineal, Carmines   Insects E128  Red 2G Coal Tar Dye and Synthetic Azo Dye
E122 Azorubine, Carmoisine Coal Tar E129 Allura Red AC Coal Tar Dye
E123 Amaranth Amaranth E160(a) Carotene, alpha-, beta-, gamma Carrots, tomatoes, leafy green vegetables
E124 Ponceau 4R, Cochineal, Red A, Brilliant Scarlett 4R Coal Tar and Synthetic Azo Dye E160(b) Annatto, bixin, norbixin Bixa orellana tree
E125 Scarlet GN, Food Red 2, Ponceau SX, FD&C Red No. 4 Red Azo Dye E160(c) Paprika extract, capsanthin, capsorubin Red pepper seeds
E126 Ponceau 6R, Crystal Ponceau 6R, Crystal Scarlet, Brilliant Crystal, Scarlet 6R, Acid Red 44 Red Azo Dye E160(d) Lycopene Tomatoes
E127 Erythrosine Coal Tar Dye    

Information Source: MBM Food Additives Guide  Image: Unsplash | The Honest Company | Azamat Zhanisov

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