Bugs are in your food, and it’s FDA approved

Red lipstick has been a timeless staple in pop culture for as long as the beauty world can remember. But did you know the secret behind the pop of color is actually due to crushed-up insect extract?

That’s right. Bugs are the secret to fiery red lips as well as other products such as cheek blush, red gum, berry-flavored yogurt, some ice cream, some ketchup, and several others.

These not-so-mystery bugs are Cochineal insects. They’re harvested in Peru and the Canary Islands and are found on cacti. The result of the sun-dried, crushed, and soaked in acid Cochineal bug is a bright red-colored pigment. It takes about 70,000 insects to produce a pound of dye, according to Live Science.

Don’t worry, this natural coloring is FDA approved! As of 2009, the FDA states that color additives from cochineal extract can be used, but they must be labeled clearly on all food and cosmetic products in the U.S. To learn about the specifications, you can access it here.

“The U.S. food-regulating agency permits a generous threshold of insects in foods before they’re considered contaminated: up to 60 aphids in 100 grams of frozen broccoli of 550 insect fragments per average box of pasta” says National Geographic. These bugs are natural, and they’re safe to consume!

If you’re experiencing the creeps, just remember not to think about it too much. Cochineal insects are here to help, and they’re here to stay.


“Bugs are in our Food — And That’s OK.” National Geographic. Print. Feb 2017.

Guidance for Industry: Cochineal Extract and Carmine: Declaration by Name on the Label of All Foods and Cosmetic Products That Contain These Color Additives; Small Entity Compliance Guide. FDA.gov. Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/ForIndustry/ColorAdditives/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/ucm153038.htm

“Here’s what you need to know about the ground-up insects that Starbucks puts in your Frappuccino.” Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/how-cochineal-insects-color-your-food-and-drinks-2012-3/#the-cochineal-insect-is-native-to-mexico-and-south-america-and-contrary-to-the-popular-nomenclature-theyre-not-technically-beetles-theyre-tiny-and-live-on-cactus-plants-usually-the-prickly-pear-cactus-1

“The Truth About Red Food Dye Made from Bugs.” Live Science. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/36292-red-food-dye-bugs-cochineal-carmine.html

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