Cochineal is made from the bodies of dried pregnant scale insects which feed on cacti in Central America. An extract from the cochineal insects is combined with aluminium to form carminic acid, also known as carmine.
This colour is regarded as safe from the food intolerance point of view - there have been no reports of behavioural reactions to it. However, there are rare but increasing reports of true allergic reactions - including urticaria, asthma, vomiting, diarrhoea and anaphylaxis - to the proteins in the insects. True allergy also known as IgE-mediated allergy or type 1 allergy is a reaction to the proteins in foods as opposed to food intolerance which is a reaction to the chemicals in foods.