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:
In a disappointing (but perhaps not surprising) decision, the FDA panel that met earlier this week to discuss whether there is a link between children’s consumption of synthetic color additives and adverse effects on behavior, has determined there is not enough evidence to justify a warning label. It was a close vote (8 to 6 vote in favor of rejecting the warnings), but as they say ‘almost doesn’t count’. The panel did acknowledge that some children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be vulnerable to food colorings as well as a host of other food additives. To keep the food producers happy, though, they were quick to point out that those children have a unique intolerance to those additives, meaning there’s nothing ‘wrong’ per se with the additives, it’s simply the kids with the problem. Right. With the European Union already requiring warning labels on artificial food colorings, it makes us wonder what type of study would the FDA need to finally add a warning, and is such a study going to take place? I mean if they ruled based on lack of evidence, shouldn’t they do some more studies to get the evidence?
Harvard Health Publications
Image: Jonas Dalidd
The FDA’s Food Advisory Committee will meet Wednesday and Thursday (March 30-31, 2011) in Silver Spring, MD, to discuss whether there is a link between children’s consumption of synthetic color additives and adverse effects on behavior. This meeting is in part a response to a petition filed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) on June 3, 2008.
The CSPI petitioned the FDA to:
For years, the Feingold Association, CSPI, consumer groups, activists, and parents have been trying to prove the link between artificial food colorings and wide array of adverse effects including hyperactivity, ADHD, skin rashes, sleep disorders and exacerbated asthma. In 2007, a University of Southampton study concluded that a diet with artificial colors increased hyperactivity in children. In response to the study, the European Union 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. In the US, artificial food dyes are found in hundreds and thousands of processed foods and it is extremely difficult for people to avoid. It will be very interesting to see what the Food Advisory Committee’s conclusion is and whether they will make any revised statements on food dyes or new requirements of food manufactures.
Happy New Year! Today’s ingredient is an artificial coloring which has been linked to headaches, skin rashes, hives and hyperactivity in children. Skip the mint chip ice cream and go for vanilla next time!
Names: FD&C Yellow No.5, Y4, E102
Found In: candy, soft drinks, cereal, gelatin desserts, baked goods, ice cream, pudding, snack foods, energy drinks, flavored chips, jam, yogurt, pickles, dessert powders, custard
Description: This lemon yellow dye is derived from coal tar. It’s used for yellow, but can be mixed with other colors such as Brilliant Blue to create shades of green. The FDA requires that Yellow No. 5 be specifically identified on the ingredient line because some people are very sensitive to it. 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 full report for link). Also see Food, Drug & Cosmetic Colors (FD&C).
Possible Health Effects: Serious allergic reactions can occur in those with sensitivities to aspirin. Other effects include: asthma, hives, headache, skin…read more on Tartrazine.
Related Ingredient: FD&C Blue #1
Copyright August 8, 2010 Be Food Smart
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