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  • Narrator: No one likes finding bugs in their food

  • when they're not expecting it.

  • But I hate to break it to you,

  • you're actually eating them all the time.

  • I'm not just talking about the critters

  • that end up in juices or jams by accident.

  • Some bugs are in our food because, well,

  • we put them there.

  • If you think it's fruit

  • that turns this strawberry yogurt red, think again.

  • Yes, there are in fact strawberries in there,

  • but they're there for flavor and texture, not color.

  • That bright red comes from something else called carmine.

  • Oh, and it's made from squashed bugs.

  • Squashed female cochineal bugs, to be specific.

  • They're tick-sized critters native to Mesoamerica

  • where they suck the juice from prickly pear cactuses.

  • Greig: And if you squish them, they are bright red inside

  • and kind of a purply, deep purple-red color,

  • and that's the source of cochineal,

  • cochineal dye, carmine, whatever you wanna call it.

  • Narrator: For thousands of years, people have been using

  • these bugs to dye everything from clothes to pottery.

  • But it wasn't until more recently

  • that they made their way into commercial foods.

  • From 1955 to 2010, the consumption of food coloring

  • rose by 500% in the United States.

  • That's mostly thanks to artificial colors

  • like Red 40, Yellow 5, and Blue 1.

  • But in the late 20th century, consumers became

  • increasingly concerned about synthetic chemicals

  • in their foods and demanded more natural ingredients.

  • So many companies turned to carmine.

  • It's FDA improved and tasteless.

  • It resists degradation from light, heat, and oxidation,

  • and unlike some synthetic colorants,

  • it hasn't been linked to cancers or tumor growth.

  • Greig: Now, some people apparently have allergies to it,

  • but compared with the downsides

  • of the chemical dye, it's very benign.

  • It's like using beet juice.

  • Narrator: And just like that, carmine ended up

  • in strawberry and cream Frappuccinos

  • and cake pops at Starbucks,

  • in Tropicana grapefruit juice,

  • and, yes, in Yoplait yogurts.

  • Just look for carmine or cochineal extract

  • on the label to see for yourself.

  • But today, carmine is becoming harder and harder to come by.

  • Some companies like Campari Group,

  • maker of the famous Campari aperitif, have phased it out

  • for economic reasons in the US.

  • Greig: It's expensive to make. I mean, it's easier

  • to just make a chemical dye,

  • and this is a very specialized,

  • you have to farm these little bugs,

  • and collect billions of pounds of them,

  • and dry all them and all that, so

  • I think that just wasn't as practical.

  • Narrator: Other companies took it out because, well,

  • people still don't like eating bugs, especially vegans.

  • In 2012, a vegan news site

  • outed Starbucks for using cochineal

  • in its Strawberries and Crème Frappuccino,

  • saying that it's not vegan,

  • and a month later, the company said they'd switch

  • to a bug-free alternative.

  • In fact, Yoplait now remains

  • one of the only major brands that sells

  • food colored with carmine.

  • But even Yoplait may phase it out

  • after customers expressed concerns

  • about eating bug parts.

  • Greig: So I just think it's ironic

  • people are freaked out about insects, about eating insects,

  • even though we eat

  • 2 pounds of insects a year on average by accident.

  • Narrator: And to show just how harmless they are,

  • we tried some.

  • Jones: Nope, just tastes like yogurt!

  • Not buggy at all, in fact.

  • Not that I would know what that would taste like,

  • but I'm really just getting plain Greek yogurt taste.

Narrator: No one likes finding bugs in their food

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B2 carmine narrator dye yogurt strawberry eating

The Bugs That Turn Strawberry Yogurt Red

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/11/21
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