Insects In Your Candy: Two Common Ingredients You Didn't Know Were Made From Bugs
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Insects In Your Candy: Two Common Ingredients You Didn't Know Were Made From Bugs

In your lifetime, you've eaten thousands of insects and huge quantities of insect by-products. These are two hidden ingredients made from insects, found in many candies!

I love candy. I have a hard time not eating it every day. But if you're squeamish, you might think twice about digging into that next bag of chocolate-covered almonds after reading this article.

But before you curse me for ruining your love of candy, let me do you a favor by dispelling one commonly-held myth: that all chocolate contains bits of cockroaches that were ground up during the processing phase. After doing a good deal of digging online, I didn't find any evidence to support this urban legend. Phew!

Red Dye:

When you see "no artificial ingredients" on food packaging, you will probably feel reassured. After all, natural is what you want to eat, right? Well, what about red dye-- how is that made "naturally"?

You might not actually see the name of a dye on your product packaging-- it might just be called "natural color" (since it's not synthetic, many jurisdictions have less stringent labelling requirments). But if you see "natural color", and that color is red, it might just be carmine, carminic acid, or cochineal. Where does this come from?

BugsThe good news is that this dye really is "all natural". The bad news (especially if you're an insect) is how it's made:massive quantities of cochineal bugs (rich in red coloring) are ground up and made into a purified red powder. Voila! Natural color!

If you're not squeamish, you'll probably have no problem with this. About the only concern comes from the fact that some people may be allergic to these insects-- if you have severe allergies, make sure to watch out for this potentially hidden ingredient!

Shellac, Confectioner's Glaze, Or Food Glaze:

This is an ingredient that you will find in a huge portion of the candies and chocolates that you eat. Think of the glassy coating on the outside of a chocolate-covered almond. You'll notice that in pretty much any candy or confection that has a "shell", the ingredients will list shellec, confectioner's glaze, food glaze, or resinous glaze. But how is it made?

From bugs, of course!

You like honey, right? Don't mind that it's made from something that bees excrete? Then you won't mind shellac. It's just something that's excreted from beetles. Don't ask me how it's harvested, because I don't want to picture it!

A Final Thought

The bottom line is that we eat food from millions of sources. Some of the likes and dislike we have are purely arbitrary (e.g. enjoying honey but being grossed out by shellac). It's entertaining to think of the hidden masses of insects that we're consuming when we eat playful treats, but is there anything disgusting about it?  Of course not!

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Comments (1)

Well, I'd rather eats bugs than chocolate, so . . .