The nutrition activist group, Center for Science in the Public Interest blasted Dannon yogurt this week for having food coloring containing bug extracts and urged the company to put “berries over bugs.”
This is not the first time a food manufacturer has been critcized for using carmine, a red color additive made from the crushed bodies of cochineal beetles. Starbucks was criticized by vegetarian groups last year after revealing that some of its fruit smoothies contained carmine and quickly decided to remove the additive from its products.
Dannon is being urged to follow suit and stop using carmine, now found in its “Fruit on the Bottom” varieties, Strawberry flavor Oikos Greek yogurt, and in six of its Activia yogurts.
“Given the fact that it causes allergic reactions in some people, and that’s it easy to use safer, plant-based colors, why would Dannon use it at all?” said CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson. “Why risk offending vegetarians and grossing out your other customers?” The extract is also on the list of banned food additives for those who keep kosher.
Whether Dannon follows Starbucks’ lead remains to be seen. “Any of our products that contain carmine clearly list it as an ingredient,” Dannon
“Carmine is a safe, FDA approved, vivid red color that we use in some of our products because it delivers the best color throughout shelf life of the product in which it is used. Any Dannon product that contains carmine clearly lists it as an ingredient,” Neuwirth said in an email to Mint Press News.’s senior director of public relations, Michael Neuwirth, told The Huffington Post. “Anyone who wishes to avoid it can.”
In fact, Dannon has gone above and beyond to provide transparency to its customers, Neuwirth said. FDA regulations allow the company to list the ingredient under the generic “natural color” label, but Dannon chooses to give customers more information, he said.
“When Dannon uses a natural color we specifically state the color — in this case carmine to make it easily identifiable for anyone who prefers to avoid it. We advise shoppers to check the ingredient list if there are any questions,” Neuwirth said.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest petition asks Dannon to replace carmine with real fruit or, “at the very least,” alter its labeling policies to make clear that the dye is an insect-based ingredient. As of Thursday afternoon, the petition had gathered about 2,600 signatures out of its goal of 20,000.