I am allergic to cochineal otherwise known as e120 or carmine. My reactions are anaphylactic! I always keep antihistamine with me since my first few attacks. I have been admitted to the emergency ward approx 4 times before I worked out what I was allergic to.

Carmine is not tested for as part of the general allergy tests of cat hair, dust ...etc. I spent hundreds of $ in tests and useless consultations. Finally I collected the ingredients from the back of packaging of recent foods consumed when I had the allergy attack and concluded the common ingredient was the e120 red food colouring. I don't know how colour from crushed dried pregnant bugs can be passed as natural for strawberry, cherry, berries - almost every red coloured food is coloured by this bug and its far-from-natural fruit colour!

I strongly believe that my first allergic reactions was when this colour additive started to be used approx 23 years ago. I distinctly remember my first ever attack and trace it to the red icy pole ice block - a treat I could always enjoy until they changed red food colouring. My first-ever reaction was massive red welts all over my body, very itchy - and this occurred at work after consuming the iceblock. For 17 years I did not know what caused my allergy - and my reactions were so severe - mostly instant itchy eyes then swell until I can't open my eyes - the battered wife look. Then swelling of the throat and rash all over my body. This food colouring is in so many food types - lollies , biscuits, cake mix, cereal , icecreams , yogurts, soup, drinks ..anything red on the super market shelf would 99% of the time contain carmine. I know because I have had allergic attacks after consuming all these.

If your child has an allergic reaction, I recommend checking if e120 is in the ingredient. Also carmine is used in makeup - pink eye shadow can cause alot of itchy grief.  It is not 'in my mind' as family so easily accused - it is in this cochineal. Please be warned.

I feel compelled to share this story because I haven't heard of many other people with this allergy and it could be more common than not - from failsafe forum.