Food Ingredients Derived from Animals

The FDA is warning some people not to eat cicadas. Some people? I’m Amy E. Feldman.

Enough recipes on how to cook cicadas have been circulating that this month, the FDA tweeted a warning to people who have seafood allergies, telling them that the insects share a family relation with shrimp and lobster. Hm. File that in things that get grosser the harder you think about them.

In fact, it should make you think about a hole in food label regulations. Because while the law requires that food labels tell you the ingredients in the product, and tell you if a product contains one of the eight most common allergens, labels don’t have to say what the ingredient was derived from. So, for example, cochineal, a scarlet dye used in food coloring, is derived from an insect. If you don’t have an allergy but you are a vegan, it’s up to you to know what ingredients may be derived from animals—or insects. Also, to know not to eat cicadas, which don’t crawl around with a food label on them.

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