There may be bugs among the berries in your Dannon yogurt, and it could cause an allergic reaction.
Dannon has been using carmine, which is "dye extracted from the dried, pulverized bodies of cochineal insects" in some flavors of its fruit on the bottom and Oikos brands, a Center for Science in the Public research (CSPI) press release reported.
The Strawberry,Raspberry, Cherry, and Boysenberry flavors of Fruit on the Bottom all contain the dye, as well as the Strawberry greek yogurt, two flavors of Light and Fit, and six flavors of its Activia yogurt.
The dye is used to create a "fruity" pink color, CSPI said this practice is cheating customers into thinking the appearance is a product of crushed berries as opposed to pulverized bugs.
Dannon uses other, more vegetarian-friendly, dyes such as purple carrot juice.
A small percentage of people who consume the insect-based dye suffer allergic reactions that range in severity from hives to anaphylactic shock.
"I have nothing against people who eat insects, but when I buy strawberry yogurt I'm expecting yogurt and strawberries, and not red dye made from bugs," CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson, said. "Given the fact that it causes allergic reactions in some people, and that it's easy to use safer, plant-based colors, why would Dannon use it at all? Why risk offending vegetarians and grossing out your other customers?"
The cochineal insect, which is used in the dye, is native to South America and Mexico. It's a parasite that feeds off cacti.
Carminic acid is responsible for the bug's red color, it takes 40,000 of the creepy crawlers to produce one pound of the dye.
Carmine is not an uncommon ingredient in the U.S.; some ice cream, candy, beverages, drugs, and cosmetics such as lipstick also contain the bugs.
A past CSPI initiative got the FDA to require companies to list carmine on their food and drug labels as "artificial color."
The center hopes to take it even further and require the dyes be labeled as "insect-derived," so that vegetarians, those eating kosher, and anyone who doesn't want to eat insects can make the decision for themselves.