The Art of Reading Labels – Or, Is Carmine the New Pink Slime?

Shopping Strategies to Maintain Prostate Health
May 18, 2018

The Art of Reading Labels – Or, Is Carmine the New Pink Slime?

Reading labels is important

You are here, therefore you are interested in more information about the foods and supplements that sustain your body.  Maybe you have just started to read food labels. My 75-year-old brother has started reading labels! Maybe the stories about Pink Slime turned your stomach. And then along comes the revelations about Carmine, a “natural” food color . . . so called natural because it comes from bugs.

Bugs? right, mashed beetles.  Cochineal insects to be specific. What’s so different about eating something made from a bug versus eating something made from an animal or plant? Maybe you can’t quite put your finger on a logical response, after all, Carmine is safe to eat, but you just know intuitively that . . .well, you’d rather not. As Snopes reported, “Our distaste at the thought of ingesting bugs is based on cultural factors rather than the properties or flavors of the insects themselves. Western society eschews (rather than chews) bugs….”

The issue today is one of informed choice. Whether or not you are willing to eat GMO or non-GMO foods, whether or not you want to become addicted to high fructose corn syrup, an ingredient that has invaded the recipes of many childhood favorite canned and processed foods (before processed foods became the over-processed non-foods they tend to be today), whether or not you want to know more about a natural prostate herb like Crila® vs a pharmaceutical drug with potentially unwelcome side effecits, and today, whether or not you are OK with bug juice providing the nice red color in your yoghurt or ice cream.

It all comes down to a matter of choice – You have a right to know what is in the foods you eat. Then it’s your responsibility to read labels intelligently to know what it all means. And understand that you do have options. And if you don’t like any of the options presented, then demand others. If you learn that your favorite fruit juice gets it’s nice, red, juicy color from bug juice, and you object, then write to the manufacturer and let them know they just lost a customer until they change their ways.

First, what to look for when reading the label to identify Carmine . . . .Other common names for Carmine include

  • Cochineal extract
  • Crimson lake
  • Natural red 4
  • Natural color

Second, you have a choice (whew!). LycoRed is an American company offering consumers and food company executives alike an alternative to mashed bugs. If the idea of red color coming from vine ripened tomatoes instead of bugs appeals to you, look for the branded ingredient Tomat-O-Red® on your labels instead of natural bug juice. LycoRed has promoted their new ingredient with a clever website http://cookingwithbugs.com/ and a tongue-in-cheeky YouTube video that, since its introduction just a month ago, has gone viral with over 200,000 views.

Enjoy! and when you reach for the red, read your labels and look for Tomat-O-Red®.

Photo credit: © Vplut 

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