The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

27 January 2006

Eat the beetles

What, you mean that really is bug juice?

Food makers may not want to dwell on it, but the ingredient that gives Dannon Boysenberry yogurt and Tropicana Ruby Red Grapefruit juice their distinctive colors comes from crushed female cochineal beetles.

Pressed by consumer advocates, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to ... require companies to disclose when a food contains beetle-derived colorings.

Under current FDA regulations, food labels must identify certain man-made colorings by name, such as FD&C Red No. 40. But for carmine, cochineal and other naturally occurring ingredients, companies can use terms such as "color added" or, oddly, "artificial color."

[An] advocacy group, and a small but vocal group of consumers who are allergic to the ingredients have pushed for stiffer rules.

Joining the chorus are vegetarians, who don't want to eat insects, and consumers observing kosher dietary practices. ... "There are a lot of people who will not be happy to know that they are eating products that contain dried beetle."

Wait a minute. Bugs aren't kosher?

Leviticus 11:20-23 [ESV]:

All winged insects that go on all fours are detestable to you. Yet among the winged insects that go on all fours you may eat those that have jointed legs above their feet, with which to hop on the ground. Of them you may eat: the locust of any kind, the bald locust of any kind, the cricket of any kind, and the grasshopper of any kind. But all other winged insects that have four feet are detestable to you.

Of course, "all fours" makes little sense in the context of insects, unless they're limping. But no, apparently bugs aren't kosher, and just to make sure:

Of the "winged swarming things" (winged insects), a few are specifically permitted (Lev. 11:22), but the Sages are no longer certain which ones they are, so all have been forbidden.

Doesn't seem to matter how you kill them, either.

Posted at 2:31 PM to Worth a Fork

Oh, just you wait. There's bound to come out a variety of M&M-like candies that's colored on one side, black on the other, and called Beetles.

Kids'll love 'em. Wanna buy in?

Posted by: McGehee at 3:01 PM on 27 January 2006

I am now doubly grateful that I stay away from yogurt. *shudder*

Posted by: aka_monty at 10:37 PM on 27 January 2006

That's absolutely hysterical about the limping insects. Thank you so so much! Yes, they are fairly detestable to me. I like it when traif objects are also disgusting.

Posted by: Melinama at 7:19 AM on 28 January 2006

Well if Leviticus says it I better get hoppin ... har de har har .... but right now I'm busy selling my daughter to the Hagamites. :)

Posted by: Ron at 12:01 PM on 28 January 2006