ingredient information
Cochineal is the name of both an expensive crimson or carmine dye and the cochineal insect (Dactylopius coccus), from which the dye is derived. The cochineal insect is a scale insect in the suborder Sternorrhyncha, native to tropical and subtropical South America and Mexico. A primarily sessile parasite, the cochineal insect lives on cacti from the genus Opuntia, feeding on moisture and nutrients in the cacti. The insect produces carminic acid to deter predation by other insects. Carminic acid can be extracted from the insect's body and eggs to make the dye. Cochineal is primarily used as a food colouring and for cosmetics. After synthetic pigments and dyes such as alizarin were invented in the late 19th century, natural-dye production gradually diminished. However, current health concerns over artificial food additives have renewed the popularity of cochineal dyes, and the increased demand has made cultivation of the insect profitable again. Source: