Waiter, There's a Bug in My Yogurt!

I'm filing this under the heading "e-mails I wished I never opened."

For decades the innocuous words “artificial colors” or “color added” has been allowed to hide the presence of—sorry, but there’s no way to soften the blow here—insects in foods. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has long allowed food- and cosmetics-manufacturers to use those phrases on their ingredient labels when the ingredient is carmine or cochineal, which are extracted from the dried bodies of the cochineal insect. But in a decision published yesterday, the FDA has ruled that carmine and cochineal have to be named.

The action comes 10 years after a consumer group, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, petitioned the agency to require the labels.

If you want to avoid eating insects because you’re a vegetarian, or because you’re Jewish or Muslim, or . . . well, just because, now the ingredients list will tip you off to what to avoid. (Also, a few people have reported allergic reactions to the ingredients.) Carmine and cochineal tend to be in reddish foods and drinks, including fruit drinks, ice cream, yogurt, and candy. And, yes, we all know that foods from flour to cereals can be contaminated with insect parts, but that's accidental. When the little buggers are in there on purpose, I want to know.