Read It Before You Eat It: How to Decode Food Labels and Make the Healthiest Choice Every Time Food Additives, Nutrients, and Supplements A to Z

E120 is a food additive approved by the European Union (EU). It is used as a colouring agent in food and drink products, as well as in cosmetics.

The common names for E120 are cochineal, carminic acid and carmines.

E120 gives a red colour to products. It is derived from the female insect dactylopius coccus (more info from wiki), found in Central America. It is therefore not vegetarian. This colouring is expensive and highly soluble in water.

Allergic reactions have been observed when E120 is used in cosmetics products. There have also been some reports of hyperactivity associated with use of E120.

Examples of food and drink products that sometimes include E120:

  • cakes
  • pies
  • sweets
  • soups
  • dyed cheeses
  • carbonated soft drinks
  • alcoholic drinks

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