While it did make for a good film, does the thought of having it smeared all over your lips make you shudder? Well, let me tell you a story!

Beetle Juice has long been used in the cosmetics industry under its FDA or abbreviated name “Carmine” or EU number CL75470.  The beetle in question is the Dactylopius Coccus and it is via the carmic acid that this beetle secretes to keep predators away that we get our crimson dye.

The eggs from these little beetles are collected up and then crushed to extract the acid which is then reacted with aluminium or calcium salts to produce the well-known dye. Now I know that the thought of crushing little beetles is not a nice one and for some it is just plain cruel BUT I’m just telling it as it is. Now you know the numerical code and name of this dye,  you can avoid it if you want to!

The beetle loves to feed on the Prickly Pear  which just love to grow in Peru – this is where the lions share of Carmine comes from.  An article from the New Agreculturalist cites that while some beetles are ‘farmed’ up to 85% are wild-harvested returning an income to somewhere in the region of 400,000 rural families.  According to the book “tropical agreculture” it takes about 70,000 Cochnieal insects to make one pound of crude cochineal which yields 10% of pure dye. This all sounds like a lot of Beetle Picking to make a buck.

Fair Trade?

While Carmine is still used for its depth of colour and ‘naturalness’ it has, in some non-food cases been replaced by chemical synthesis such as aniline dyes. These dyes can be quite toxic when applied directly to the skin and have been cited as a risk factor […]