Nobody likes finding bugs in their food… but what if we told you that most of the foods you love so much are made using crushed bugs?
More specifically, they are used to dye food products such as M&Ms red.
(That red-pink colour in your Yoplait? You might think it’s the strawberries, but the truth is that it’s bugs).
When female cochineal bugs are crushed, they are bright red inside and kind of a purply, deep purple-red colour.
They’re tick-sized critters native to Mesoamerica where they suck the juice from prickly pear cactuses.
And they are the source of carmine (also known as cochineal), a natural red dye used to colour your food. It’s been used for thousands of years as a dye in products such as pottery and clothing.
And it might sound disgusting, but the commercial carmine we encounter is pretty much tasteless. And it’s a natural food colouring, compared to synthetic ones that have raised health-related concerns.
Before you freak out about carmine being made from bugs, just absorb the fact that we eat two pounds of insects a year on average by accident. And we’re all okay, so don’t worry!