Tag Archives: natural food coloring

What You Didn’t Know About Starbucks Red Velvet Cupcakes

1 Jan

I know this isn’t exactly a funny post, but I thought people should know about this.

Looks delicious, right? Have any of you ever thought to look into the natural food coloring that makes the cupcakes their signature red color? I thought not. Anyway, if you look at their website, you’ll find that one of the ingredients in these cupcakes is carmine. Seems innocent enough. I had never heard of this before though, so I decided to look it up on Wikipedia, where it stated that:

Carmine, also called Crimson Lake, Cochineal, Natural Red #4, C.I. 75470, or E120, is a pigment of a bright-red color obtained from the aluminum salt of carminic acid, which is produced by some scale insects, such as the cochineal scale and the Polish cochineal, and is used as a general term for a particularly deep-red color of the same name.”

If you haven’t heard of a cochineal before, here’s a few pictures:

File:Dactylopius coccus (Barlovento) 04 ies.jpg 
The cluster of gray things… yeah, that’s what they look like.

If you’re not already grossed out, here’s more fun facts!:

“Carmine may be prepared from cochineal by boiling dried insects in water to extract the carminic acid and then treating the clear solution with alum.”

On top of being made out of bugs, carmine also has been known to “cause severe allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock in some people” when used as a food dye!

The Center for Science in the Public Interest had an article titled, “FDA Urged to Improve Labeling of or Ban Carmine Food Coloring” so that people would at least be warned they are eating boiled bugs that could cause allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock. This was declined by the FDA because it found no “significant hazard” to the general population, and food-industries obviously didn’t want to write “insect-based” on their labels. All the FDA said people had to do was list it in the ingredients label!


So… do you still wanna eat that cupcake?


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