My daughter (now 10) is extremely sensitive to cochineal 120. She develops a rash on her face that extends from under her eyes to around the jaw line. It is a raised, red rash that feels like "sand under the skin". There is noticeable facial swelling also. This occurs within a few minutes of ingestion and lasts for a couple of days. We had great difficulty pinpointing the cause until she had some Breaka strawberry milk. The only thing that could it could have been was the cochineal 120. We confirmed this ourselves by placing 1 drop of cochineal into a drink and she responded with a small amount immediately. An allergist has confirmed that she should avoid this colour. She had a few severe episodes as a young child that involved total head to toe rash and many family photos look like she has a fat face and is sunburned. We now recognize this as a reaction.

We are finding a huge increase in the number of foods that contain 120, many have wording stating no artificial colours. We read labels where at all possible and try to make safer choices otherwise. This is getting increasingly difficult. We try to make our daughter responsible for her diet otherwise she tends to resent the policing of it. Grandparents and friends are struggling with the different labeling also. For example in a particular brand of fruit cup cordial, colours are listed as beta carotene and carmine. I had concerns about the carmine, believing it to be a red colour and found it is another label for cochineal 120.

I have concerns about some colours being labelled by names other than their commonly known ones. It makes reading labels difficult. Friends, relatives and my child read everything before eating and had presumed this one ok. We were very lucky we checked before giving her some. – reader, Qld  (True allergies are reactions to the proteins in foods and intolerances are reactions to the chemicals in foods. Reactions to additives are usually intolerance. However, as the use of natural colours increases, there are increasing reports of true IgE-mediated allergic reactions to natural colours cochineal (120) which is extracted from crushed beetles and annatto(160b) which is extracted from the seedcoat of a tree, due to proteins in the beetles and seeds, see the Annatto factsheet)