- The Center for Science in the Public Interest, which recently reached a settlement deal with 7-Up to get rid of added vitamin E in the soda, issued an announcement on Thursday calling for Dannon to quit using carmine—a dye made from insects—in its Strawberry, Cherry, Boysenberry and Raspberry Fruit on the Bottom yogurts.
- The group argues that the use of carmine is deceptive for consumers, who might expect that yogurt coloring comes from the fruits being displayed on packaging.
- "Any of our products that contain carmine clearly list it as an ingredient," Michael J. Neuwirth, Dannon's senior director of public relations, told The Huffington Post in response to the complaint. "Anyone who wishes to avoid it can."
From the press release:
..."I have nothing against people who eat insects, but when I buy strawberry yogurt I'm expecting yogurt and strawberries, and not red dye made from bugs," said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. "Given the fact that it causes allergic reactions in some people, and that it's easy to use safer, plant-based colors, why would Dannon use it at all? Why risk offending vegetarians and grossing out your other customers?"
CSPI is sponsoring an online petition on TakePart.com urging Franck Riboud, CEO of Dannon's parent company Groupe Danone, to replace the bug-based dye with more of the fruit advertised on the label.
The cochineal insect is a tiny, parasitic scale insect native to South America and Mexico. It lives on and feeds off a certain type of cacti. The red color comes from carminic acid, which the insects have in abundance. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, it takes on the order of 40,000 of the little bugs to produce one pound of cochineal extract. Besides yogurts, carmine can be found in candies, ice creams, and beverages, as well as in drugs and cosmetics.
In response to a CSPI petition, the Food and Drug Administration at least requires carmine to be listed on food labels when it is used. Previously, companies could obscure the presence of the insect extract by labeling it "artificial color." CSPI had urged the FDA to go further and describe carmine as "insect-derived," making it easier for vegetarians, Jews who keep Kosher, or anyone otherwise averse to eating such ingredients to avoid it. ...