AskDefine | Define carmine

Dictionary Definition

carmine adj : having any of numerous bright or strong colors reminiscent of the color of blood or cherries or tomatoes or rubies [syn: red, reddish, ruddy, blood-red, cerise, cherry, cherry-red, crimson, ruby, ruby-red, scarlet] n : a variable color averaging a vivid red [syn: cardinal] v : color carmine

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A purplish-red pigment made from dye obtained from the cochineal beetle; carminic acid or any of its derivatives
  2. A purplish-red colour.
    carmine colour:   




  1. (colour) Of a purplish red colour.


See also

Extensive Definition

this the pigment <div style="float:right; font-size:90%; text-align:center; margin-right:0.5em; margin-left:1.5em; margin-bottom:1em; background-color:#ffffff; border:solid 1px #000000; width: 120px"> <div style="height:120px; width:120px; background-color:#960018; border-bottom:solid 1px #000000;"> Carmine
Carmine (), also called Crimson Lake, Cochineal, Natural Red 4, C.I. 75470, or E120, is a pigment of a bright red color obtained from the carminic acid produced by some scale insects, such as the cochineal and the Polish cochineal, and is used as a general term for a particularly deep red color. Carmine is used in the manufacture of artificial flowers, paints, rouge, yogurt, cosmetics, food additives, and crimson ink.


Carmine may be prepared from cochineal, by boiling dried insects in water to extract the carminic acid and then treating the clear solution with alum, cream of tartar, stannous chloride, or potassium hydrogen oxalate; the coloring and animal matters present in the liquid are thus precipitated. Other methods are in use; sometimes egg white, fish glue, or gelatine are added before the precipitation.
The quality of carmine is affected by the temperature and the degree of illumination during its preparation, sunlight being requisite for the production of a brilliant hue. It differs also according to the amount of alumina present in it. It is sometimes adulterated with cinnabar, starch and other materials; from these the carmine can be separated by dissolving it in ammonia. Good carmine should crumble readily between the fingers when dry.
Carmine lake is a pigment obtained by adding freshly precipitated alumina to decoction of cochineal.
Carmine can be used as a staining agent in microbiology, as a Best's carmine to stain glycogen, mucicarmine to stain acidic mucopolysaccharides, and carmalum to stain cell nuclei. In these applications, it is applied together with a mordant, usually an Al(III) salt.


Carmine is used as a food dye in many different products such as juice, ice cream, yogurt, and candies, eyeshadow, lipstick, etc. Although principally a red dye, it is found in many foods that are shades of red, pink, and purple. As a food dye it has been known to cause severe allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock in some people.
Food products containing carmine-based food dye may prove to be a concern for people who are allergic to carmine, or people who choose not consume any or certain animals, such as vegetarians, vegans, and followers of religions with dietary law (e.g. kashrut in Judaism and halaal in Islam).

Regulations for use in foodstuffs

United States

In the United States, carmine is approved as dye for foodstuffs.
Carmine is not required by the FDA to be explicitly named in all ingredient lists, and may sometimes be represented under "color added". As of the end of January 2006, the FDA is evaluating a proposal that would require food products containing carmine to list it by name on the ingredient label. It was also announced that the FDA will separately review the ingredient labels of prescription drugs which contain colorings derived from carmine. A request from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (article titled: "FDA Urged to Improve Labeling of or Ban Carmine Food Coloring" to require ingredient labels to explicitly state that carmine may cause severe allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock and that is derived from insects was declined by the FDA. Food industries were aggressively opposed to the idea of writing "insect based" on the label and they finally agreed to simply putting "carmine".
Although concerns over hazards from allergic reactions have been asserted, the United States Food and Drug Administration agency (FDA) has not banned the use of carmine and states it found no evidence of a "significant hazard" to the general population.

European Union

In the European Union the use of carmine in foodstuffs is regulated under the European Commission's directives governing food additives in general (, and food dyes in particular ( and listed under the names Cochineal, Carminic acid, Carmines and Natural Red 4 as additive E 120 in the list of EU-approved food additives ( The directive governing food dyes approves the use of carmine for certain groups of foodstuffs only (a list of approved uses is included in Annexes I and III of EU-Directive 94/36 and specifies a maximum amount which is permitted or restricts it to the quantum satis.
The EU-Directive 2000/13/EC on food labeling mandates that carmines (like all food additives) must be included in the list of ingredients of a food product with its additive category and listed name or additive number, that is either as Food colour carmines or as Food colour E 120 in the local language(s) of the market(s) the product is sold in.
Although concerns of hazards from allergic reactions were raised, the use of carmine in foodstuffs is not banned in the EU. However, the use of carmine in foodstuffs has been discouraged by European food safety authorities, and although it is predominately used as colouring in alcoholic beverages, it can still be found in foods such as supermarket Indian curries. A re-evaluation process of the approval status of several food colors (including carmine) was started by the Panel on food additives, flavourings, processing aids and materials in contact with food of the European Food Safety Authority in early 2006 and is scheduled to be completed by 2008 ( Accessed on 2 January 2007,

The Middle East

Carmine is prohibited as a food additive in Saudi Arabia. ( However, both Carmine and Indigo Carmine are permitted food additives in the Country of Qatar (


  • Amy Butler Greenfield – A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire, Harper Collins, 2005. ISBN 0-06-052275-5
carmine in Danish: Karmin
carmine in German: Karmin
carmine in Spanish: Carmín
carmine in Esperanto: Karmino
carmine in Italian: Carminio
carmine in Hungarian: Kármin (festék)
carmine in Dutch: Karmijn
carmine in Japanese: コチニール色素
carmine in Polish: Karmin
carmine in Portuguese: Carmim
carmine in Russian: Кармин
carmine in Swedish: Karmin
carmine in Vietnamese: Đỏ yên chi

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Titian, Titian-red, bricky, cardinal, carnation, carnelian, cerise, cherry, cherry-colored, cherry-red, crimson, damask, ferruginous, fiery, fire-red, flame-colored, flame-red, flaming, glowing, gules, hot, incarmined, inflamed, infrared, iron-red, lake-colored, laky, lateritious, lobster-red, lurid, maroon, port-wine, puce, red, red-dyed, red-looking, reddened, reddish, reddish-amber, reddish-brown, rubicund, rubiginous, rubric, rubricose, ruby, ruby-colored, ruby-red, ruddied, ruddy, rufescent, rufous, rust, rust-red, rusty, scarlet, stammel, tile-red, vermilion, vinaceous, warm, wine, wine-colored, wine-red
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1