Tag Archives: additives

Bug Colors. Are Cochineal Beetles in Your Food?

Here at FoodFacts.com, we have been fielding several inquiries on colors extracted from Cochineal Beetles over the past few weeks.

 

Most recently, this topic has been the talk of the town following a news report on the subject, which revealed that the coloring created from the Cochineal Beetles was used in a Starbucks Strawberry Frappuccino drink. This has caused both vegans and non-vegans alike to criticize the coffee chain, both on the ick factor and the notion that vegans are unknowingly ingesting animal products when consuming the drink in question.

 

But the use of color from Cochineal Beetles is nothing new. The colors created from the beetles are cochineal extract and carmine, the latter of which was recently the focus of a controversial ingredient day on the FoodFacts Facebook page. The colors are extracted from the female Cochineal Beetles, which are raised in Peru, the Canary Islands, and elsewhere, and provides a red, pink or purple color to the products it is in.

 

What many people don’t realize when questioning the “bug ingredients” is that such colors could illicit a severe allergic reaction in some people. Over the past several years, doctors both in the United States and outside of the country have determined that colorings could cause allergic reactions, such as sneezing, asthma and even anaphylactic shock.

 

Both carmine and cochineal extract can be found in food items such as candies, juices, ice creams and yogurts. It can also be found in certain medicines, including cough drops. Finally, these ingredients can be found in dyed cosmetic products, such as lipstick.

 

So how does one avoid it? By reading the ingredients on the packaging and knowing what colors are derived from the beetles, you should be able to avoid the products if you need to because of an allergy, or want to because of the ick factor. Knowledge is power, after all.

 

We here at FoodFacts are wishing you the best!

Packaging words to learn and lookout for!

Foodfacts.com understands that many consumers may often be fooled by certain terms, symbols, or words present on food packaging. This article should help to clarify any confusion regarding your foods and how the impact your health!

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1. Flavored
Both natural and artificial flavors are actually made in laboratories. But natural flavorings are isolated from a natural source, whereas artificial flavorings are not. However, natural flavors are not necessarily healthier than artificial. According to Scientific American, the natural flavor of coconut is not from an actual coconut, as one might expect, but from the bark of a tree in Malaysia. The process of extracting the bark kills the tree and drives up the price of the product when an artificial flavoring could be made more cheaply and more safely in a laboratory. That natural strawberry flavor you love? It could be made from a “natural” bacterial protein. Mmmm!

2. Drink and cocktail
The FDA requires that the amount of juice be labeled on a package when it claims to contain juice. The words drink and cocktail should have you checking the label for percentages and hidden sugars. But beware: even a product labeled 100 percent juice could be a mixture of cheaper juices, like apple juice and white grape juice.

3. Pure
100 percent pure products such as orange juice can be doctored with flavor packs for aroma and taste similar to those used by perfume companies. By now we all know about the use of flavor packs added back to fresh-squeezed orange juice like Tropicana and Minute Maid.

4. Nectar
The word nectar sounds Garden of Eden pure, but according to the FDA it’s just a fancy name for “not completely juice.” The FDA writes: “The term ‘nectar’ is generally accepted as the common or usual name in the U.S. and in international trade for a diluted juice beverage that contains fruit juice or puree, water, and may contain sweeteners.” The ingredient list of Kern’s, a popular brand of peach nectar, contains high fructose corn syrup before peach puree.

5. Spread

Anything that uses the word spread, is not 100 percent derived from its main ingredient. Skippy Reduced Fat peanut butter is a spread because it contains ingredients that make it different than traditional peanut butter. When something is called a spread, look at the ingredients to see if there is anything in there you don’t want.

6. Good source of fiber

If it doesn’t look like fiber, it may not function like fiber. Products that are pumped full of polydextrose and inulin are not proven to have the same benefits of fruits, vegetables, and beans, foods naturally high in fiber. For true fiber-based benefit add some fruit to your yogurt.

7. Cholesterol free
Any product that is not derived from an animal source is cholesterol free. Companies add this to packaging to create the illusion of health. The product is not necessarily unhealthy, but you should see if there is something they are trying to distract you from–e.g., corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oils.

8. Fat free
PAM cooking spray and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray are fat free if used in the super miniscule and near impossible serving sizes recommended. PAM must be sprayed for ¼ of a second and the small I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray bottle contains over 1,000 servings! Even then it’s not fat free it’s just below the amount that the FDA requires to be identified on labels.

9. Sugar free
This designation means free of sucrose not other sugar alcohols that carry calories from carbohydrates but are not technically sugar. Sugar alcohols are not calorie free. They contain 1.5-3 calories per gram versus 4 calories per gram for sugar. Also, certain sugar alcohols can cause digestion issues.

10. Trademarks

Dannon yogurt is the only company allowed to use the bacteria in yogurt called bifidus regularis because the company created its own strain of a common yogurt bacterial strain and trademarked the name. Lactobacillus acidophilus thrives in all yogurts with active cultures. Although Activa is promoted as assisting in digestion and elimination, all yogurts, and some cheeses, with this bacteria will do the same thing.

11. Health claims
Could a probiotic straw give immunity protection to a child? Are Cheerios a substitute for cholesterol-lowering drugs? The FDA doesn’t think so. Foods are not authorized to treat diseases. Be suspicious of any food label that claims to be the next wonder drug.

Food facts you may not know… or want to know…

Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:
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10 The average fast food patron eats 12 pubic hairs in a given year
We’ve all got the occasional hair in our food at one point or another. Ingesting unwanted hair is more likely to occur at fast food restaurants… and it’s not just the hair that grows on the top of heads that you need to worry about.

9 The strawberry flavor in a McDonald’s milk shake contains 50 artificial flavors

Apparently, real strawberries are expensive. So fast food companies like McDonald’s choose to use a ridiculous concoction of 50 chemicals to effectively imitate the flavor of one real-world food. These chemicals include ethyl acetate, phenythyl alcohol and solvent.
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8 This is where chicken nuggets come from
Before reshaping, foods like chicken nuggets, hot dogs, bologna and pepperoni look like a disgusting sludge of pink paste. This is done through a process called mechanical separation, which is a cost-effective way to “smooth out” bone remnants left after the de-boning process. The process results in excessive bacteria, which is fixed by washing the meat in ammonia. To cover up that delicious ammonia flavor, the meat is then re-flavored artificially and dyed to resemble to type of meat it once was.

7 There are bugs and rodent hair in your peanut butter
FDA laws allow for an average of 30 insect fragments per 100 grams of peanut butter. In that same half cup of peanut butter, you’ll also find at least one rodent hair (on average). Yum! Now that’s good eating!
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6 Shellac is an important ingredient in jelly beans

Shellac is a type of finishing product that is typically used to improve the shine of wood and furniture. However, it can also be used to improve the shine of certain foods, such as jelly beans. Where does shellac come from? Why, it’s secreted by an insect in Thailand called the Kerria Iacca of course!

5 Various viruses can be found on processed lunch meat
Food production companies have long sought ways to combat unhealthy microbes found on processed foods such as lunch meat and hot dogs. A few years ago, the FDA approved the use of bacteriophages (a.k.a. viruses) that help kill these dangerous microbes. So, basically, viruses are purposely being added to your food to improve shelf life.
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4 If not for one ingredient, drinking a can of Coke would make you vomit
While cocaine was long taken out of Coca-Cola long ago, the current formula is still formulated to get you high. Each can of Coke contains 10 teaspoons of sugar. This is 100 percent of your recommended daily intake. In normal circumstances, the extreme sweetness of this much sugar would immediately cause you to vomit uncontrollably. However, since all that sugar is addictive and keeps you coming back for more, Coca-Cola adds phosphoric acid -– an ingredient that cuts the sweetness to manageable levels.

3 Processed cheese is less than 51 percent cheese
A more accurate name for Kraft Singles and other packaged cheeses is “cheese-like substance.” Any cheese product labeled as processed or pasteurized includes additives, chemicals and flavorings that account for up 49 percent of the total product. As a result, that cheap cheese in your grocery store has just enough real cheese in it to allow companies to call it cheese.
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2 Fast food salads contain chemicals used in antifreeze
Choosing to “eat healthy” at a fast food restaurant isn’t necessarily a good idea. To prolong crispness, packaged salads are dusted with Propylene Glycerol, a chemical commonly found in antifreeze. In its concentrated form, the chemical has been known to cause eye and skin irritation.

1 Chicken McNuggets contain beef
Many fast food chicken items contain beef additives used to enhance flavor and juke health stats. Chicken McNuggets, the Wendy’s Grilled Chicken Sandwich, and KFC Grilled Chicken Sandwich are a few examples. Check the ingredients, and you’ll see no sign of such atrocities. That’s because such beef additives are listed as “extract” or “essence.”

(Guyism.com)