Consumer Watch: Some yogurt companies using bugs for dye

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by Andy Treinen

WHAS11.com

Posted on July 29, 2013 at 5:17 PM

(WHAS11) -- If you've never stopped to think about how the food you eat gets its color, maybe it's time you did. A non-profit health and consumer watchdog is raising concerns about how some yogurt companies color their products. Good Morning Kentuckiana’s Andy Treinen has today’s Consumer Watch.

What gives most strawberry yogurt its pink color? If you thought berries you would be dead wrong. It's bugs! The cochineal insects are valued for their vibrant red color when crushed as demonstrated by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. “In just seconds it turns into a brilliant, scarlet red dye,” a museum spokesperson, said.

Last year, Starbucks said it would stop using the bug dye in products like its strawberries and cream Frappuccino and now the Center for Science in the public interest says Dannon should get it out of its yogurts. “A company like Dannon should be coloring its strawberry yogurt with strawberries and not some insect extract,” CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson, said.

They say Dannon is being deceptive. “The average yogurt eater sees the redness and thinks strawberries. There's a picture of a strawberry on the label, not an insect,” Jacobson, claimed.

The group also says dozens of consumers have complained that the bug coloring, called carmine, has caused vomiting, hives, and swelling.

In a statement, Dannon said: "Carmine is a safe, FDA approved, vivid red color that many food makers use, including Dannon in some of our products, because it delivers the best color throughout shelf life of the product.”  Dannon says if consumers want to avoid it, they can just look at the label, it'll read "carmine."

If you have a consumer issue you’d like us to look into send an e-mail to: consumerwatch@whas11.com

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