As someone who avoids artificial food colours and dyes, imagine my delight at seeing this at a local supermarket last month:
The same brand sells regular food colourings and it was sitting on the shelf right next to these. Always the label detective, I turned over the box to see what they were using to create the natural dyes, when I nearly choked and tripped over my trolley.
Yeah, yeah… spinach – good, turmeric – great… COCHINEAL! OH MY.
Cochineal is natural alright. Afterall, parasites are part of nature.
I kid you not. Cochineal is an insect. A bug. It is boiled and dried and pulverised. It is mostly found / produced in Mexico and Peru, where it takes tens of thousands of these little suckers to make even just a small amount of dye.
It’s not unusual for cochineal to be used in food. It can be found in soft drinks, energy drinks, frozen meat, canned red fruits, canned soups, lollies, tomato sauce and so on. Most people don’t read labels, so wouldn’t be aware… and even some who read labels may not know what cochineal means. But this informed mama does. And I’m not particularly interested in ingesting any creature that has been crushed up and mixed with water.
I’ll stick with the natural food colours I already use and trust – Hopper brand.
** Any product recommendation is my own true endorsement. I do not receive kickbacks or sponsorship.