In order to talk about the Cochineal colour Carmine, first you have to talk about the Cochineal. The Cochineal (Dactylopius coccus) is an insect parasite of the hemiptera plants that belongs to the Dactylopidae family, which develops in the bunch of tuna. It is mainly used for the extraction of the dye composed of two substances known as carmine and carminic acid.
It originates from Peru and Mexico. However, Peru is currently the main producer of cochineal in the world.
The Peruvian cochineal has a high value on the international market and its demand is increasing due to the use of synthetic dyes derived from oil and coal, which are questioned for their toxic effects. The red synthetic dyes, which are used to give color to food, have been replaced by the red pigment of the cochineal.
The red pigment of the cochineal in pre-Columbian times was used by ancient Peruvians to dye wool and cotton red. The cochineal lives above the bunch of Opuntia ficus tuna, which provides it with water and food. The tuna grows wild in the inter-Andean valleys of Peru.
THE CARMINE OF THE COCHINEAL
Carmine, derived from carminic acid produced by the cochineal, is one of the oldest dyes utilized as a pigment or dye. When employed as a pigment (liquid), its staining method involves dissolution, with the intensity of the coloring directly proportional to its purity. As a dye (solid), its staining method is dispersion, distributing the color throughout the material, and in this case, the strength of the coloring is not proportional to its purity.
This dye, also known as Cochineal Colour, serves as an additive in food, medicine, and cosmetics. It falls under the classification of the FD&C by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is included in the list of additives of the European Economic Community (now European Union) within permissible toxicity parameters, specifically the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI).
Among natural colors, Cochineal Colour stands out for its excellent technological characteristics. It imparts a delightful red hue to food and is employed in various products, including canned vegetables, jellies, ice cream, meat, and dairy products like yogurt, fresh barbecue, and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
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