Ever wonder what natural food dyes are made out of? I was watching Food Detectives with Ted Allen a few days ago and I (unfortunately) found out. Most of the colours in the natural food dyes that they investigated were not very threatening, although still not very appetizing, such as algae to produce the colour green. But the way in which food companies naturally produce the colour red was what caught my attention. This natural red food dye is often found in red velvet cake, pre-stirred strawberry yogurt, red candy, the list goes on, and it is created from...wait for it....CRUSHED BEETLE CARCASSES! That's right! Beetle carcusses have a vibrant red juice inside of them that can be released when crushed. I know you're probably thinking that you have never read "beetle juice" on the list of ingredients on the side of your yogurt cup, that is because the FDA states that the ingredient must be listed as caochineal or carmine because people may be allergic to it. So if you're ever stuck in the woods with no food, why not try a delicious beetle carcass, becuase hey, you've already eaten plenty of that!
Image courtesy of McCormick.com...I'm not saying that they use caochineal or carmine, I have no idea, but they had a great picture of a red velvet cake! Mmmm pretty sure I'd still eat a piece even if there were beetle carcasses in it.