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Buggy food coloring.

The next time you reach for some red candy, you might want to check the bag's label. A dye used to give some foods and drinks their crimson color is made from crushed cochineal beetles. Ew! The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now requires all manufacturers that use the bugs to say so on their products' packaging.

Until recently, manufacturers could list the beetle extract as "artificial coloring." That bugged some people, including vegetarians who wanted to know whether they were eating animal products. And though the dye is safe for most to consume, in a small number of people, cochineal extract can cause anaphylactic shock, or a severe allergic reaction that affects their ability to breathe.

As of this past January, manufacturers must state the dye on their products' ingredient lists as "cochineal extract" or "carmine." "Now consumers who are allergic [to the dye] will have an easier time picking out their foods," says Sebastian Cianci of the FDA.

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Title Annotation:BIOLOGY: FOOD SCIENCE
Author:Greene, Kim
Publication:Science World
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 4, 2011
Words:164
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