(NaturalNews) Yogurt, fruit, and insect juice? This last ingredient might seem out of place, but it is precisely what global food giant Dannon is adding as a food coloring to many of its commercial yogurt products, unbeknownst to the majority of its customer base. And the non-profit consumer advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is calling on the company to immediately remove the ingredient from its product formulations in the interest of public safety.
You may recall back in 2012 when coffee chain Starbucks found itself in the national spotlight for quietly replacing a plant-based coloring agent with carmine, a substance that is extracted from ground-up cochineal beetles, in some of its Frappuccino beverages. Well, this same ingredient is now being used by Dannon to doctor up some of its more colorful yogurt flavors and make them more appealing to the eye, which is generating new controversy.
According to CSPI, the carminic acid-derived coloring agent is not only deceptive by default, but it is also known to cause allergic reactions in some people. The group's Chemical Guide, in fact, recommends that consumers be cautious about the foods they eat as added carmine can cause severe allergic reactions, including anaphylactic shock. This may be why Dannon already avoids using carmine in its yogurt lines aimed at children.
"I have nothing against people who eat insects, but when I buy strawberry yogurt I'm expecting yogurt and strawberries, and not red dye made from bugs," says CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson. "Given the fact that it causes allergic reactions in some people, and that it's easier to use safer, plant-based colors, why would Dannon use it at all? Why risk offending vegetarians and grossing out your other customers?"
Safer alternatives to carmine include things like purple carrot juice, beet root, and various other natural, plant-based dyes that many "natural" and organic food producers are already using. These coloring alternatives, of course, are infinitely safer than the many petroleum-based food colorings commonly used in conventional food products, which have been linked to causing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other behavioral problems in children.
Dannon yogurts also loaded with aspartame, GMOs, and other synthetic additives
CSPI has created an online petition at TakePart.com that urges Franck Riboud, CEO of Groupe Danone, Dannon's parent company, to immediately replace carmine with more natural fruit, which already contains natural coloring. If the company does not wish to do this, CSPI hopes the Dannon will at least label its yogurts as containing the insect-based dye.
Carmine is not the only major concern with Dannon yogurt, though. According to the company's "What's in Our Yogurt?" page, many Dannon yogurt products contain added artificial flavors, genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), and aspartame, a synthetic sweetening agent originally derived from a chemical warfare agent. Monsanto used to own the patent for aspartame.
"Three congressional hearings and countless research reports and papers by renowned doctors confirm the deadly chemistry of aspartame," writes Dr. Betty Martini, D.Hum., concerning the dirty truth about aspartame. "FDA listed 92 adverse reactions, including death, in [its] report on 10,000 ... complaints volunteered by American consumers."
Then there is the issue of GMOs in Dannon yogurt, which hide behind ingredients like cornstarch, fructose, and so-called "mineral compounds," which may be derived from synthetic, GMO-based sources. Even the milk used to make Dannon yogurt is problematic, as it more than likely comes from cows raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and fed GMO feed.