Dr. Sunil - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Sunil

Is Carmine Bad For You?

Also Known As: crimson lake, cochineal, natural red 4, C.I. 75470, E120



Short answer

Carmine does not pose any significant health risks unless you have a specific allergy to the substance.



Long answer

Carmine is a bright red pigment that is used as a natural food coloring in many common food and drink products. These products include some types of yogurt, cake mix, vitamins, candy, ice cream, and meat, among others. It can also be used in non-consumable goods such as artificial flowers and paints.

Much controversy has exploded in recent years over the use of carmine as a food dye in many edible products due to the discovery that the coloring is comprised of extractions from female cochineal bugs.

Many people are grossed out by the thought of insect extract being present in their food and beverages. In fact, Starbucks no longer uses the additives solely based on that fact. However, if you can get past the icky place carmine comes from, there is no significant health reason to stop consuming products that include it. Compared to other common food dyes, carmine is actually surprisingly non-harmful and is refreshingly natural.

Although carmine is not known to cause any adverse effects to most individuals' health, it is a common allergen. For those who are allergic to the substance, it can be extremely dangerous. If you are prone to allergies or have experienced a negative reaction to carmine in the past, it is recommended that you cease consumption of the dye or get tested for an allergy to it.

Furthermore, for those who consider themselves vegan, keep kosher, or abstain from consuming animal products for any other reason, carmine is a substance to avoid, as cochineal bugs are dried and crushed in the process of extracting it.

Possible short-term side effects

  • allergic reaction

Commonly found in


  • it's natural

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Written by Shaylie F | 12-29-2015

Written by Shaylie F
Suggest improvement or correction

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