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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. 
 
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.