Dannon Yogurt Uses Crushed Insects (Beetles) to Color Its Yogurt

dannon yogurt

By Matt Hall — Staff Writer

If you’ve ever enjoyed Dannon’s yogurts, you may have noticed their bright, fun colors. What you may not have known is some of those yogurts get those colors from carmine, a coloring agent made with crushed beetles. If you would have made a different purchase decision if you’d known that information, you’re not alone: the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is also taking issue with Dannon over the process.

Dannon’s Coloring Process

Carmine is a food coloring additive made from the crushed bodies of cochineal beetles. In addition to being gross and cruel, using beetles to make food coloring is also unnecessary. “Given the fact that … [it’s] easy to use safer, plant-based colors, why would Dannon use it at all?” said Michael F. Jacobson, CSPI Executive.

According to ingredient information on several of Dannon’s websites, the coloring agent in question — carmine — is used in the following yogurt lines:

“Fruit on the Bottom” yogurt

  • Strawberry

  • Cherry

  • Boysenberry

  • Raspberry

“Oiko” Greek Yogurt

  • Strawberry

“Light and Fit” Yogurt

  • Pomegranate berry

“Light and Fit Greek” Yogurt

  • Blueberry

Dannon also uses the coloring agent in several of its “Activia” yogurts as well.

The potential problems of Dannon using this coloring process for its yogurt are obvious. Vegetarians, consumers concerned with animal cruelty, and people with allergies and other dietary restrictions are just some groups that should have the right to know how their yogurt is made.

No FDA Support for Concerned Consumers

Don’t expect the FDA to work on the side of the consumer to protect them from carmine since the FDA has classified the coloring substance as a natural ingredient. This means it does not have to be under the same stringent regulations as artificial coloring agents.

The FDA isn’t the only group who has shown disinterest in preventing consumers from coming in contact with this disgusting coloring process. Starbucks is coming under fire again for its decision to begin selling Dannon yogurts at its stores, even though it already had its own carmine scandal a year ago. Last year, Starbucks customers were outraged when they found out its strawberry-flavored smoothies and Strawberries & Creme Frappuccino used cochineal extract. After a customer uproar, the company agreed to stop using cochineal extract and use lycopene instead. (Lycopene is a natural extract made from tomatoes — much safer and more ethical than carmine.) This decision forces the question, “Why not make the same switch in Dannon yogurts?”

How to Make Your Own Natural (Beetle-Free) Yogurt

If you’re sick and tired of having corporations trick their customers into consuming disgusting ingredients, you can make your own. There are lots of recipes to make your own yogurt online, and here’s just one.

  1. First, gather four 8-oz. glass jars and lids. You’ll want to sterilize them by boiling them in a water pot for 10 minutes. This step may sound optional, but as making yogurt is dependent on having a specific culture of bacteria, don’t skip it!

  2. Next, pour 1 quart of milk into a pot or double boiler and begin heating it slowly. Stir constantly.

  3. When the milk reaches between 180 and 185 degrees F, stop heating it.

  4. Remove the milk from heat and allow it to cool to between 105 and 110 degrees F.

  5. Add 1/4 cup plain store-bought yogurt to the milk and stir until it dissolves. (Don’t use yogurt with any flavoring or coloring — especially carmine!)

  6. Pour the milk/yogurt mix into the four jars and close the lids tightly.

  7. Place these jars in a pot or container filled with warm water. These jars need to stay between 105 and 120 degrees F to incubate the bacteria cultures, so use a thermometer to monitor the water temperature. Add hot water if you need to raise the temperature to maintain proper heat levels.

  8. Once the yogurt has gelled, place it in your refrigerator.This usually takes between 4 and 6 hours.

Feel free to add your own coloring, fruit pieces, flavoring and more at this point. Delicious yogurt is relatively easy to make, even at home, and at least this way you know exactly what’s in it.

With yet another example of disheartening corporate deception, Dannon has proven itself undeserving of the public trust. To make sure you don’t accidentally consume beetles in your food (and unknowingly perpetuate this disgusting practice), check the ingredients of your colored food products for carmine.


182 Comments on Dannon Yogurt Uses Crushed Insects (Beetles) to Color Its Yogurt

  1. Foolish people, we are made up of chemicals naturally occurring. It’s how you put it together that makes the difference. Go back to school or at least do some BASIC reading of human anatomy and physiology.

  2. I stopped eating their yogurt years ago when they told me I was too fat to participate in one of their weightloss challenges… (by 5lbs) but this just makes me even more glad to have not eaten their crap.

  3. when I was a little girl, they used red bugs to make red lipstick and rouge too. Not much has changed has it? Rather have pesticide free red bug guts to smear on my lips and face than chemicals any day! 🙂

  4. so the bugs couldn’t possibly be breed purely for colour? some poor ol’ guy must be out in the chemically doused fields picking out bugs to sell to massive companies! I’d be more worried about the plant based colourants. Chemicals alongside GMO? Tasty!

  5. Are you kidding?? The beetles should be at the bottom of your worries. What about hormones and antibiotics for starters, and how about pesticides and artificial sweeteners? Are you saying that you actually prefer artificial coloring in your food???

  6. Then you prolly don’t want to know there is fecal matter in most of your food especially imported seafood.

    A recent Bloomberg article entitled “Asian Seafood Raised on Pig Feces Approved for U.S. Consumers” explained that much of the seafood that is imported to the United States from Asia is actually raised on pig feces.

  7. Old news. Everybody heard that story via Starbucks a few months ago. That beetle has colored food since time began; nobody has ever gotten cancer, etc from it. Maybe a bellyache from eating too many pink pralines, c. 1780 New Orleans. lol.

  8. So what, we are one of the few cultures that doesn’t consider insects protein sources! You know what is really ugly, how much high fructose corn syrup is in EVERYTHING! Heck, I’d take crushed bugs over that any day.

  9. Humans digestive system mimics closest to the chimpanzee. Their diet consists entirely of fruits, vegetables, insects, and sometimes other chimpanzees. It’s only natural and healthy to get protein from that source. It’s much healthier than dairy products which may cause cancer. I’ll take bugs over curdled cows piss for my stomach anyday

  10. I’m actually surprised by all the comments below. As a vegetarian I am not pleased about this. I don’t eat dairy but why not eat only plain yogurt and add only fresh fruit if you do eat dairy…ALSO it is cruel to kill these beetles for this. Why does this have to be put into the yogurt anyway…

  11. Even if “Lycopene is a natural extract made from tomatoes”, we don’t know what solvent and or chemical is used for extraction. Most commonly lypophobics (which includes Lycopene) is extracted by methods using compounds such as Ethyl-acetate/Ethanol, Hexane/Isopropanol and Benzene/Isopropanol). I’d rather eat a bug.

  12. Dumb article.
    The insect may well be the only healthy component of that yogurt.
    Disappointed that these articles are getting sloppier lately.
    I just pressed “hide from news feed”. See ya.

  13. Oh for heaven’s sake. Ellen’s right–it’s called cochineal, it’s a coloring that’s been used since the pyramids and it can be used as a colorant when people are allergic to synthetic dyes. What’s the big deal? Shrimp are bugs. Lobsters are bugs. If you eat food from your garden, you’ve probably eaten a bug or two. Bugs live in your body, on your skin, in your eyes. Can we get over the bug thing, please?

  14. I agree with the others. I’d rather have that than the chemical dyes. Plus, how is it different from eating any other animal? If no one ever ate a pig before, and suddenly they were putting pigs in some new food people would be disgusted by that too. Think about how you’re reacting people.

  15. Yes, this kind of dilutes the previous warnings. Sorry, I don’t mind the beetles they are natural. As far as being cruel? I’m sure it’s quick just like anything else we as humans kill.

  16. Crushed beetles are a very common red food dye. I’d much rather have this natural form of color rather than just chemicals. Some cultures live off this source of protein. Yay beetles!!

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