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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 28, 2023.

Excipient (pharmacologically inactive substance)

What is it?

Carmine (cochineal extract from Dactylopius coccus costa) is a red colored dye extracted from insects native to South America and Mexico that live as parasites on cactus plants. Carmine has been used a coloring agent in food, cosmetics and textiles but has been associated with severe allergic reactions, including occupational asthma. This ingredient is listed in the PETA's Caring Consumer guide as a substance of animal origin. Carmine is on the FDA's listing of color additive exempt from certification, meaning certification of this color additive is not necessary for the protection of the public health as set forth by the FDA restrictions.

List of medications using Carmine


  1. Environmental Working Group. Carmine. Accessed 1/14/2014.
  2. National Library of Medicine. Haz-Map. Butylated hydroxytoluene. Accessed 1/14/2014.
  3. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21, Volume 1, Revised as of April 1, 2013; CITE: 21CFR73.100. Cochineal extract; carmine.

Further information

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