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Baby Bloodheart
13 October 2011 @ 04:16 pm
Not sure if we've ever had an in-depth explanation about coloured cups, possible health issues in particular, but this mornings news letter from Mooncup goes into some detail about why they never plan to make a coloured cup, thought some might be interested so the following is copied and pasted from Mooncup's newsletter/web site; 

October 2011 "Would you like crushed beetle with your menstrual cup, madam?"
(or Why the Mooncup Will Always be Dye-Free) 

Over the years, we’ve occasionally been asked if we have plans to make the Mooncup in different colours. Our answer has always been ‘no’ – quite simply because dyeing the Mooncup is at odds with the health, ethical and environmental benefits characteristic of the Mooncup and our company. Cathy Marchand, Mooncup Ltd.’s Nurse Advisor and Research Officer, explains why:

Health: a dubious safety record
Since 1918, it has been known that toxins can be absorbed into the blood stream through the vagina. Coloured menstrual cups are either made with the addition of food colouring or pigments.

Food colourings are used to encourage people to buy certain foods over others. They have a chequered safety history, which has led to strict regulations around food additives being developed, as some colourings were found to be carcinogenic and have a systemic effect on the body. Several types of artificial food dyes that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration, USA) had originally approved for use in food have since been banned, as subsequent research determined that these were no longer safe for human consumption.

Standards and regulations on food colourings, including maximum daily limits, vary throughout the world, with some regulations being more stringent than others. In America, for example, ‘F’, ‘D’ and ‘C’ numbers (which generally indicate that the FDA has approved the colourant for use in foods, drugs and cosmetics) are given to approved synthetic food dyes that do not exist in nature, while in the European Union ‘E’ numbers are used for all additives, both synthetic and natural, that are approved in food applications.

The pigments industry is distinct from the dyes industry, which manufactures a separate class of chemicals. Many pigments are not biodegradable and are often made from petroleum products. As with the disposal of any chemicals, there are a variety of environmental concerns associated with the manufacturing and handling of pigments, including how best to dispose of them without polluting fresh water sources

The material we use to make the Mooncup – medical grade silicone – was chosen by us because of its excellent and universal safety record: we do not want to compromise the health of Mooncup users by using unnecessary additives that may have a question mark over their safety now or in the future.

Environment: a commitment to people and animal-friendly practices 
Mooncup Ltd. is proud to have been awarded ‘Ethical Business’ status for its commitment to people and environmentally-friendly practices. Adding another stage to manufacture means more energy is consumed and, when using dyes or pigments, makes the process more complex and less environmentally sensitive.

We are also committed to offering a product that is vegetarian and vegan-friendly. Many natural colourings are animal-derived, such as carmine/cochineal (E120 – red, purple, pink) made from crushed beetles; shellac (E904) from insect secretions; gelatine (orange) made from animal bones; lutein (E161b – deep yellow) from egg yolks and L-Cysteine (E920), sometimes made from hair or feathers.

Call us boring(!), but we’re not willing to compromise our ethical status for a non-essential additive with a dubious health and ethical history.

The Mooncup ethos: Less is More 
As consumers, we are constantly encouraged to buy more products and told that those we already own should be replaced by new items. Using the Mooncup offers women an opportunity to ‘step out’ of the cycle of consumerism in at least one aspect of their lives – and this is one of the reasons that so many women love the product. In our opinion, coloured Mooncups would make something beautifully simple into something unnecessarily complicated. We also think the Mooncup looks rather nice just the way it is.

Source; Mooncup UK - http://www.mooncup.co.uk/about-us/news/all-news/coloured-menstrual-cups.html#anchor2?utm_source=Sign-Up.to&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=250329-Autumn+newsletter+11%2F10%2F2011 

Note this is from Mooncup, what this says of other cup companies who do sell coloured cups is up to you to determine. I personally don't think coloured cups are a major issue; they're a bit of fun and can encourage more women to use cups, over products with more questionable safety and less transparancy about manufacturing such as commercial tampons. 
juliiie87juliiie87 on October 13th, 2011 05:32 pm (UTC)
Hum let's see... I'll be partial because I'm a sucker for pretty little things, and I just purchased my first (pink) cup... and I'm not even a vegetarian.

But crushed beetle, really ?? sure that's icky, even if you don't care too much for the poor beetle...
Im my opinion, there's only so much you can do to improve your lifestyle / save the planet / make sure you support ethical businesses... I mean, it's an infinite quest for ideal ethics, but no company will ever be ideal... there's always the stuff they are bound to hide from the public. And at the end of the day, it all comes down to marketing...
And yes, we are generally attracted to to what is pretty... And pink is such a girly choice... and believe me, I'm trying hard to reconsider all of this girliness in me... but I can't always fight my gender-biased education (almost serious here).

But if this is enough of a reason for anyone to choose a clear cup, then that's something they might want to consider... I guess Mooncup has made their (marketing) point.
m03m on October 13th, 2011 08:41 pm (UTC)
crushed beetle, really ?? sure that's icky, even if you don't care too much for the poor beetle...

Meh, after all they're used to colour food, too... I'm not sure this is worse. I'm not sure that this kind of coloring is used in cups at all, either.
(no subject) - babybloodheart on October 13th, 2011 10:04 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - juliiie87 on October 13th, 2011 11:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - lebannen on October 13th, 2011 10:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - maxineofarc on October 14th, 2011 12:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scien on October 14th, 2011 07:16 am (UTC) (Expand)
Obsidianpurple_obsidian on October 14th, 2011 01:47 am (UTC)
Yeah, look I think that it's in part true, and in part marketing... But you can't rely on a company that is promoting something, being unbiased. And they are using irrelevant "facts" by a nurse, to make their claims sound better, and to justify why they aren't colouring their cups.

I don't disagree with their stance, but this post has tarnished my view of them somewhat..

Yes, synthetic food colouring isn't particularly good for you (ingesting synthetic chemicals? who'd have thunk it!)... and yes cochineal is from a beetle.. but that's irrelevant. I'm sure natural food colouring can't be used in tinting silicone, it would be horrendously expensive to do so, and you're not eating it anyway. It's a different kettle of fish.

I've never heard of shellac as a colourant - though it is used in some consumable applications because it makes things shiny (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shellac#Uses), gelatine also isn't used as a colourant (anyone who has used gelatine can attest, it's virtually clear, and the slight "colour" it produces isn't exactly appealing)... A google of cysteine shows it's not used as a colourant, (http://www.food-info.net/uk/e/e920.htm). So really.... mentioning those just seems like a grab at finding examples of hidden edible things that aren't vegan.

There are plenty of natural colours you can get that are vegan.. they probably picked out only the ones that aren't. (I only know of one other, purple dye used to be obtained from the inside of a shell) Even red you can get from other sources. So citing the non-veganness of using cochineal and a bunch of other things that aren't actually used as colourants anyway, as a reason not to colour the cups seems a little selective/redundant really.. Infact I almost find it somewhat insulting to my intelligence. As well as making me wonder why a nurse is giving me information on food colourings (that aren't really food colourings), when we're supposed to be talking about colourings in cups.

It's science-washing. Put in there because it's said by a nurse, so we're supposed to believe that it's more credible then than if a regular person said it (because nurses naturally know all about chemicals, industrial processes of a cup manufacturing facility and the ins and outs of food colourings)... and because it's talking about a bunch of scary chemicals and using poor animals for colouring our foods.. that must mean all colouring is bad, so it's a good thing that their cups aren't coloured.

I'm not sure how much, if any of a colourant would be absorbed by the body in a coloured cup, but I will grant them that - it is probably something of a slight concern... it's only going to be a problem if the colourant they used was dangerous and if it was able to be absorbed by the body. Silicone itself is made from a synthetic compound... so I can't really see how adding a synthetic colourant to that (provided it's been classified as "safe") is going to make much difference in terms of lessening environmental impact and being more natural and good for you. You're already talking about a product that is man made... Do we actually know how safe the silicone is? Is the silicone itself safer than the colourants? It's not a cupcake made with fresh organic ingredients and someone putting synthetic food colouring in to it. But, as I said... I don't dispute their claim that synthetic colours may be harmful.

However, if you wear anything other than naturally dyed organic cotton, and use the vast array of cleaning products and makeup and hairdye etc. you're already absorbing a bunch of chemicals. There's likely to be far more danger in that than using a coloured cup. I'll bet there is synthetic colourants in the coloured ribbons they use for the bags... are their bags organic cotton? likewise in all the printed materials they use. :Þ

Personally, if they are so concerned about the environment that they won't use synthetic colourants because of environmental concerns, I'd also like to see them using unprinted, unbleached organic cotton pouches with undyed organic cotton drawstrings, to print all materials with plant-based inks on recycled paper (or wheat based paper and other eco-alternatives) and limit printed materials to only those which are absolutely necessary.
Obsidianpurple_obsidian on October 14th, 2011 01:48 am (UTC)
and.. (because my post was too long lol)

But looking at it from their point of view.... we have companies who are heavily promoting coloured cups.... JuJu when it came out also made a similar statement about not making coloured cups (which I also thought somewhat hypocritical given they use heavily dyed satin pouches with a very elaborate packaging box) .... so by posting that "reason", they are addressing why they aren't coming out with coloured cups like other brands are.... they are basically saying it's not because they are lazy or frugal, they are using the "environmental/health conscious" angle. So it's in their best interests to make coloured cups sound unsafe, because they have no plans to make coloured ones, and want people to buy their clear ones instead of other brands coloured ones.

This bit:
"Using the Mooncup offers women an opportunity to ‘step out’ of the cycle of consumerism in at least one aspect of their lives – and this is one of the reasons that so many women love the product. In our opinion, coloured Mooncups would make something beautifully simple into something unnecessarily complicated. We also think the Mooncup looks rather nice just the way it is."

Also urks me... a coloured cup is really no less likely to let people be non-consumerist... they are using a reusable cup over disposable tampons - the fact they chose that cup to be coloured, really, makes little difference. And just because they consider a coloured cup to be "unnecessarily complicated" and that they like the cup the way it is, doesn't stop the fact that there are hundreds/thousands of people out there who would buy a coloured mooncup if it was offered, and who will shop elsewhere because colour does sway some people. Again, it just sounds like they are trying to think up excuses.

Personally I think they should have just stuck with saying they believe the colourants are not guaranteed safe and that because of that, and their desire to bring you something they fully stand behind, they have chosen not to colour their cups. That's all they needed to say, and I'd have respected them for that.
(no subject) - ohletmetelu on October 14th, 2011 04:21 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - juliiie87 on October 14th, 2011 11:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - serpent_849 on October 14th, 2011 02:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - juliiie87 on October 14th, 2011 04:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - quitterie on July 13th, 2015 02:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - serpent_849 on October 14th, 2011 05:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - m03m on October 14th, 2011 06:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - serpent_849 on October 14th, 2011 07:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - tearsandhoney on October 17th, 2011 05:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
tearsandhoneytearsandhoney on October 17th, 2011 04:42 pm (UTC)
After reading this I feel a little bit sick. I own two coloured cups, I am a vegetarian and I DON'T WANT CRUSHED BEETLES IN MY VAGINA!
rsilvergunrsilvergun on October 17th, 2011 06:22 pm (UTC)
Think of it this way: I remember reading somewhere as a kid that 80% of the world eats insects. Is that really that much of a leap from using crushed beetles as dye to color your cup? I didn't bother with colored cups because when i got my Lunette they were not available and they seemed to cost a little more for a color I wont be able to see when I'm using it.
Sarcasticia Nitpickersontisiphone on October 17th, 2011 08:58 pm (UTC)
Notice that they don't actually say their competitors use those dyes. For example, beets are used to produce red, purple, and pink dyes as often as cochineal, maybe more often (certainly for natural food colorants). This is a bit of a scare story, as far as I can tell.
(no subject) - babybloodheart on October 17th, 2011 10:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Obsidianpurple_obsidian on October 18th, 2011 03:02 am (UTC)
Not sure if you're serious or not :)

But cochineal (the beetle-based dye) is only used for making red/pink... and it's *very* expensive (compared to synthetic colourants). No cup companies would use cochineal.

The amount they would need would be too cost-prohibitive, and since it's not an edible item, and it's made "chemicals" (yes, I'm aware that water and most everything is a chemical too, but I'm talking in the layman's sense of the term), I can't see any reason why they would want to use any natural colourants, when a synthetic one is much cheaper, more stable and easier to source.

I checked pricing, if you take an example of $7USD for 10g cochineal... compared to an (also edible) synthetic red (powder) at $1.65USD for 10g. Huge difference. Also, for comparison, Madder root powder (which also makes red and is plant based, but not edible) works out at about $1USD for 10g.

I don't know how much silicone 10g worth would dye (it would depend on how deep a colour you wanted) but it's not going to dye much - maybe a bucket full of light pink?... And that's only if it would actually work... The main problem with natural based dye stuffs is that they aren't always terribly colourfast (so there's no guarantee the cochineal would survive the manufacture process enough to actually work effectively) and their colours aren't always the same each time (vary in intensity)... big companies like cup manufacturers need to have the exact same colour being produced each time, and I don't know if they could get that guarantee from a natural source.

.. added to that, cochineal is nowhere near as vibrant a colour as a synthetic dye... so you'd probably end up using twice as much (or more) cochineal to make the same colour as half as much synthetic. So why would you pay $7 for 10g to colour your bucket of silicone, when you could use like 80c worth of synthetic red to colour the same amount.

So if they wanted to use a natural dye in their un-natural silicone cup, there would be cheaper alternatives to cochineal anyway. But given it would be a selling point (if they paid extra to go to the effort of having something natural to colour them) - they would let you know... otherwise there's no point doing it.
perapequena on October 21st, 2011 10:43 pm (UTC)
I know I’m a little late to the party, but I wanted to let you all know that I contacted Fleurcup and they said that all of the dyes that they use are free of animal ingredients and therefore suitable for vegans. Although this doesn’t address any possible health issues that may be associated with the dyes themselves, it proves that at least one company does not use „crushed beetles“ in their cups. It would be interesting to see if this is true of other companies - I would imagine that it is.
Quitteriequitterie on October 22nd, 2011 01:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this info ;o) !
(no subject) - perapequena on October 23rd, 2011 06:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
Obsidianpurple_obsidian on October 25th, 2011 04:03 am (UTC)
Just to let you know... I've e-mailed all the companies who offer coloured cups, to ask them about this... So far I've had a couple of replies...


They of course said the colours are safe :) but sent me several pdf files of their rest results (which I've uploaded to my blog - http://menstrualcups.wordpress.com/2011/10/20/coloured-cups-are-they-safe), which shows the testing of both the colours (first file) and the general cup material.

Interestingly, I believe it's saying that the plastic the cups are made from was tested on animals (presumably as part of checking the plastic is safe for use with people), as is referenced in the last file. I'd never thought about that being a component of testing, and I wonder if the other cups have been likewise tested.



Said they would get back to me in a few days



Said they will issue a public statement on it, and that they would contact me again in a few days - which they did, saying they have forwarded my e-mail to their head office. They say they realise it's an important issue, so they are gathering information from their experts and will get back to me.


Secret Cup company (who are bringing out the new cup)

Said that as far as they know, the colours they are polling people on (plus clear and grey) are the only colours that are already tested and approved by FDA... and that other colours (like purples and whatnot) would need to go through the process of testing and approval.
Obsidianpurple_obsidian on October 25th, 2011 04:04 am (UTC)
*test results (not rest results lol)
Baby Bloodheartbabybloodheart on October 25th, 2011 12:27 pm (UTC)
Good to see them responding and taking it seriously - I guess they have to after Mooncup posted this. Keep us updated here - please?

Oh, and I hate you (joking) for knowing about this new secret cup brand! :-P
Luceafaraluceafara on July 14th, 2013 06:57 pm (UTC)
Almost two years later I have to ask: did the companies you emailed ever get back to you about this?

Edited at 2013-07-14 06:57 pm (UTC)
fuckincapslockfuckincapslock on September 26th, 2012 02:48 pm (UTC)
I use a colored cup, not because its blue, but because the white cup I got from another company was too hard for me and the blue one fit better. I think my white/clear cup is more harmful because of poor fit than my blue one is because of the dyes.