Bugs in food? No laughing matter

Watch, learn and, OK, you can laugh. New video "Cooking With Bugs" exposes the buggy business of food colorants.

Did you know there are bugs in your food—as an actual ingredient? Creepy-crawly insects are being used whole to “naturally” color food and beverages red. The beetle-based mash is added to fruit juice, yogurt, ice cream, jelly, hotdogs and numerous other processed foods.

Sound yucky? It’s why a major coffee beverage brand made the decision to find a better way to color their strawberry frozen beverages in the past year.

Now, the company that helped get the ick-factor out of those frozen drinks is helping do the same for the rest of our nation’s food supply. LycoRed, which produces a fruit-sourced red food coloring, just made an educational and funny short video about the country’s bug problem. The video will début in Chicago at IFT’s annual Food Expo on July 13 to 16, where 20,000 of the world’s top food professionals will meet at McCormick South. To view the video, click here.

“It’s our way of running through the street and screaming, “Do you know you’re eating bugs…BUGS!” says Doug Lynch, a LycoRed VP.

Lynch says that LycoRed’s humorous campaign, called “Cooking with Carmine,” (named after the bug-based food coloring) is not just meant to educate consumers, but top executives at food companies as well.

“I really feel for the food companies and their executives who are trying to do the right thing” Lynch says. “They’re all well-intentioned and are trying to move away from synthetic based food dyes.  But since Carmine comes from bugs, it’s not only gross; it isn’t kosher, halal or vegan either. We want to let food companies know that there is now a much more appealing alternative to bug meat.”

“It might be all natural,” says Vicki Chelf, noted vegan cookbook author about carmine food coloring.  “But just imagine all the health-conscious people reading that on their food labels. They have no idea it means bugs. They’re going to be outraged, especially vegans.”


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