Aperitivos made with Carmine (Cochineals)


#1

According to this recent NY Times article on “traditional” Aperitivos (the alcoholic drink): “Many of these drinks use the natural dye carmine, which is extracted from the cochineal, a tiny insect, to achieve their vibrant hue. This is not some weird new craft-distilling trend: Cochineals (KAHCH-i-neels), native to the Americas, have been used for centuries to lend color to everything from fabric to cosmetics to food.”

It states that the ingredient is simply used for traditional coloring, gives “no aroma or flavor,” and uses a very small amount, in one example: “a fraction of a gram per liter of alcohol.”

Here’s a link to the article: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/26/dining/drinks/campari-color-aperitif-aperitivo.html

I am interested in your perspective on the kashrut of aperitivos that use this ingredient.


#2

Good question. The Halachah is clear that something that is put into a food item that is inedible is fine. Carmine is used as a coloring. The finished product is not edible by itself.
Additionally, it’s never providing any flavor to the product, which is the first rule of Taaruvot. I’m sure it’s less than 1/60th, anyway.

I know the OU and other certifications will avoid using carmine, but I suspect it’s more because they don’t want to deal with the millions of calls and backlash that it would cause. This is similar to their writing a “D” for dairy on products that clearly are not dairy. From a public relations aspect they need to avoid certain situations to avoid confusion. We try to present Halacha here. From a halachic perspective carmine is not an issue.