23 July 2020 10:38

Tim Tam

A viral TikTok video has exposed a concerning ingredient found in Tim Tam biscuits. The classic Australian chocolate favourite contains cochineal - a type of food coloring that comes from South American insects and has been known to provoke severe allergic reactions. Until 2009, cochineal was one of many dyes that fell under 'natural color' on ingredients lists. Tim Tams contain cochineal (pictured) - a type of food coloring that comes from South American insects and has been known to provoke severe allergic reactions in some people What is cochineal? Cochineals are harvested mainly in Peru and the Canary Islands on plantations of prickly pear cacti, the bugs' preferred host.

There, the insects are sun-dried, crushed, and dunked in an acidic alcohol solution to produce carminic acid, the pigment that eventually becomes carmine or cochineal extract, depending on processing. About 70,000 insects are needed to produce a pound of dye. Until 2009, cochineal was one of many dyes that fell under the umbrella term 'natural color' on ingredients lists. But because cochineal provokes severe allergic reactions in some people, the Food and Drug Administration requires carmine and cochineal extract to be explicitly identified in ingredients lists. Advertisement But the potential dangers of the ingredient prompted the Food and Drug Administration to require that cochineal be explicitly identified in ingredients lists.

TikTok user jadassaad101 posted a video of himself reading out the ingredients list on the back of a packet of Arnott's Tim Tams. 'Make this go viral so people know the truth. Don't eat Tim Tams anymore,' he captioned the clip. The Woolworths' website confirms cochineal makes up part of the delicious biscuits, under: 'Food Colours (Caramle III, Beet Red, Cochineal, Annatto)'. Carmine is a color obtained from cochineal extract and gives food such as yogurt, lollies and beverages red, pink, and brown colours. But allergic reaction is a major unwanted effect of carmine, and has been known to produce anaphylactic shock as a major adverse effect. Coffee giant Starbucks used to use the insect-based dye in some of its beverages. The ingredient is often used to provide color to sausage and artificial crab, as well as pink pastries. Many yogurts and juices use cochineal, and it's common in lipsticks and blushes. Any time customers see an ingredients list that includes carmine or cochineal extract, part of the food has come from the powdered bug. Daily Mail Australia has contacted Arnott's several times for comment. Maybe you first saw Britain's Penguin chocolate biscuits in the supermarket during a UK holiday. Perhaps you have a British partner or pal who raves about how delicious they are. Or, like almost all Australians, you could just really love Tim Tams — and, as a result, you're eager to give any biscuit that even remotely resembles them a try. Whichever category you fall into, you can now get your hands on Penguins in all their famed glory, as they've just landed on Aussie shelves for the first time. You'll need to head to Coles to pick up a six-pack, which'll set you back $2.80. If you're currently thinking "hmmmm, but we already have Tim Tams", these chocolate-covered, chocolate cream-filled bikkies actually pre-date them. Penguins have even been dubbed "the original Tim Tam", which might sound almost sacrilegious Down Under — but, although they're longer and crunchier than the Aussie biscuit we all know and love, they first debuted in Britain in 1932, more than three decades before Australians started munching on Tim Tams in 1964. Discovering whether another bikkie really is as great as a Tim Tam is probably all the motivation you need to "p-p-pick up a Penguin!", as its slogan encourages, and give them a try. If you need more, though, Penguins also come with penguin-themed jokes printed on the wrapper (maybe keep them away from your dad). And, back in the 70s, the British treats inspired quite the advertisement — which you can watch here. Six-packs of Penguin biscuits are now available at Coles for $2.80. Published on July 23, 2020 by Sarah Ward