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Rosy future for beetle juice.

A tiny crimson beetle that preys on the prickly pear cactus can provide a safe, stable red pigment for coloring foods, reports a research team from the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Cuautitlan.

Sara E. Valdes-Martinez and her colleagues extracted pigment from female cochineal beetles (Dactylopius coccus) and tested how long the red color lasted in ham, syrup and yogurt. If the food's acidity increased or decreased sharply during storage, the color faded or turned yellowish, they found. Otherwise, it held its hue for years--even at a temperature of 50[degrees]C.

Derived from an an entirely natural source, the dye needs no approval from the Food and Drug Administration, says Valdes-Martinez. But harvesting it is a labor-intensive--and therefore expensive--task, she adds.
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Title Annotation:red pigment from beetles
Author:Pennisi, Elizabeth
Publication:Science News
Date:Sep 14, 1991
Words:123
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