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There Are Bugs in Your Dannon Yogurt

Update Date: Jul 25, 2013 10:08 AM EDT

The secret behind the bright red color of some of Dannon's yogurt products has been revealed. To the dismay of several consumers, the color of the yogurt does not come from the fruit that it is supposed to taste like but rather, from carmine. For those who do not know what carmine is, it is a color additive that is created by crushing the bodies of cochineal beetles. Although insects are not particularly dangerous to eat, as several countries serve these little pests on a stick, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is not happy that Dannon has kept this bug ingredient a secret.

According to the CSPI, Dannon should have informed its customer regarding this particular ingredient because cochineal beetles could affect some people's diet plans and goals. For example, the CSPI stated that these beetles could be an issue for vegetarians as well as other people who have strict diets. On top of that, the CSPI stated that for people with allergies, this ingredient could be a major health concern. Despite this recent discovery, Dannon has stood by this additive.

"Any of our products that contain carmine clearly list it as an ingredient," the senior director of public relations at Dannon, Michael J. Neuwirth said according to The Huffington Post. "Anyone who wishes to avoid it can." Neuwirth also stated that people with strict diets often peruse ingredient lists carefully.

Carmine is present in Dannon's strawberry, cherry boysenberry and raspberry flavored yogurts under the "Fruit on the Bottom" line. Carmine is also used in the Oiko's brand of strawberry flavored Greek yogurt and the blueberry flavor of the "Light and Fit Greek" yogurt. The pomegranate berry flavor of the "Light and Fit" yogurt also has carmine. There are also several yogurt products under the Activia brand that contain carmine.

Although some might ponder over why companies choose to use bugs as a color additive over plant-based colors, it is important to remember that carmine is considered safe to use and thus, these companies are not harming consumers. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists carmine as a natural color additive. Despite this, CSPI is advocating for the removal of carmine in Dannon's products.

"There's no transparency here," Neuwirth added.

CSPI has since sponsored an online campaign on TakePark.com. Dannon has not stated whether or not it will remove carmine as an ingredient. 

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