Updated 4/19/12: Starbucks has announced that due to the controversy surrounding the use of cochineal extract, that they will use lycopene to color their Strawberry & Creme Frappuccino and Strawberry Banana Smoothie. Starbucks is also dropping cochineal extract in their Raspberry Swirl Cake, Birthday Cake Pop, Mini Donut with pink icing and Red Velvet Whoopie Pie.
Virtually every news outlet is reporting that Starbucks is using cochineal extract in their popular strawberry beverages. When I read this, my first thought was, how did people find out? Starbucks doesn’t post or provide any of their ingredients to consumers (only allergy information and the required nutritional information). Apparently, a vegan Starbucks barista notified the site, www.thisdishisvegetarian.com, that Starbucks had changed the formula of their Strawberries & Cream Frappucinos and Strawberry Smoothies to contain cochineal extract. The barista also included a few cell phone pics of the packages to show the ingredient lists.
So what’s all the fuss about cochineal extract? It’s made from…bugs. It’s used as an alternative to artificial dyes and can be found in many foods including yogurt, candy, applesauce, baked goods, and other red processed foods. Here is an excerpt from our Cochineal Extract Ingredient Report on exactly what this dye is and how it’s made:
After doing a presentation for the Santa Barbara Girl Scouts, a troop leader came up to me with the empty box from a Lunchables package. She said she thought that given my presentation, I should see what was actually in this product. Notice how I used the word “product” instead of “food.” These are not interchangeable. My goal with this post is not to make any parent feel bad about feeding their child Lunchables, but rather to open your eyes to what is actually in this item.
I started my research with on the Kraft Lunchables website. When I clicked on the picture of the Bologna + American Cracker Stacker with Juice, this is what it says:
Give them the good stuff. Made with Oscar Mayer bologna made with chicken and pork, Kraft American and Ritz Crackers. Includes Capri Sun Roarin’ Waters.
- Excellent Source of Protein, Calcium
- Crackers made with 5g Whole Grain per serving
Wow, protein, calcium and whole grains? This must be the “good stuff!” Or maybe not…
Easter is the second top-selling candy holiday and according to the National Confectioners Association, almost 90% of parents will create Easter baskets for their children. Filling those baskets will be Marshmallow Peeps, Cadbury Crème Eggs, jelly beans, and M&M’s, all of which contain artificial food colorings. So what’s the concern with artificial colorings? In 2007, a University of Southampton study concluded that a diet with artificial colors increased hyperactivity in children. The European Union took action and now requires warning labels on foods containing specific dyes. To avoid the dreaded label, many European manufactures reformulated products with natural food colorings or removed dyes all together.
Blueberries are used in hundreds of foods including cereal, bagels, pastries, breakfast bars and muffins. You see those little sweet, purplish-blue globs as you eat these foods and assume it must contain actual blueberries, right? As this video reports, the answer is probably not. More likely, you are eating a mixture of partially hydrogenated oils, starches, blue #1, blue #2, red #40, and artificial flavorings which create a fake blueberry.
As an avid ingredient reader, even I was surprised to see this blatant of a lie on food packaging of hundreds of foods. Watch this video from Mike Adams, The Health Ranger, of Natural News, to see the expose on the use of fake blueberries in foods.
To see how the food manufactures responded to this report, click for the Fox News story.
This Ingredient Spotlight is a regular feature from Be Food Smart. Check back daily to see the ingredient of the day.
The next time you are tempted to pop a candy cane in your mouth, think again. Red No.40 is the most commonly used artificial red food coloring used in the US today and is banned in many other countries.
Alternate Names: Allura Red AC, FD&C Red. No. 40 Calcium Lake, FD&C Red. No. 40 Aluminum Lake
E Number: E129
Found In: soft drinks, candy, children’s medications, cereal, beverages, snacks, gelatin desserts, baked goods, ice cream
Description: An azo dye produced from petroleum to create shades of red. Also see Food, Drug & Cosmetic Colors (FD&C). One of the newest colors to be permanently listed by the FDA. It is extremely prevalent in foods and is one of the most commonly used of all the food dyes. Due to several studies on children and hyperactivity, the European Union requires food containing this colorant to have a label which states: “may have an adverse effect on activity in children” (see In the News section on full ingredient report). This can be problematic for parents since this food dye is found in thousands of products marketed specifically to children. Red No. 40 is banned in Denmark, Belgium, France, Sweden and Switzerland. The safety of this colorant is highly controversial.
Possible Health Effects: Known to cause hyperactivity in children. Some animal studies indicate that chemicals used in the preparation of this colorant are carcinogenic and may cause cancer. Developmental… Read more on Red No. 40
Related Ingredient: Tartrazine
Copyright August 8, 2010 Be Food Smart
If that soda can had a warning label which stated “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children,” would you give it to your child? This is the decision parents in the European Union (EU) now have. After numerous studies indicated that artificial food dyes caused behavioral and hyperactivity issues in children, the EU finally took action. On July 20, 2010 new food coloring legislation went into effect in the EU which requires special labeling of foods containing six colorants.
Here are the six offending dyes:
In the US, it is very difficult to avoid consuming synthetic food dyes. Virtually every type of brightly colored candy contains food coloring as does soda, sports drinks, cereals, packaged snacks and most medication designed for children. Food colorings in general, whether artificial or natural, have one thing in common: They are added to the food ONLY to make it look more appealing. Now, I try to avoid processed snacks and junk food as best I can, but throw a few Red Vines, gummy sour watermelons, or Peanut M&Ms in my line of sight and watch my willpower crumble.
I didn’t realize I was in love until about 10 years ago. You know those relationships where you fall in love with a friend you’ve known all your life? Well, that was me and Trader Joe’s. I’d been hanging with TJ since I was a little kid. My folks knew TJ and frequented his establishment. Now, as a mom myself, I find I hang out with TJ about 90% of the time.
The reasons I love TJ: