Drinks on sale in the US will have to declare whether or not they contain a red colouring derived from the cochineal insect, under a new ruling by the Food and Drug Administration.

Drinks, food and cosmetics producers will be given two years to flag up the use of red colourings cochineal and carmine on labels, according to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decision document dated 5 January.

A network of campaigners, led by Center for Science in the Public Interest, has for a decade pushed for greater clarity on use of the additives.

The red colourings can be extracted from the cochineal insect, native to Mexico and South America, and have been used in a range of alcoholic and juice drinks.

"FDA has concluded that cochineal extract and carmine may cause potentially severe allergic responses in humans," said the watchdog in its decision document.

"Thus, the agency has determined that label information about the presence of these colour additives in all foods and cosmetics is necessary to ensure their safe use."

Total re-labelling costs for the food, drinks and cosmetics industries may reach US$3m, according to an FDA estimate.

Some campaigners have called for the additives to be banned, but the FDA said that cochineal extract and carmine have both been determined to be safe when used in accordance with the colour additive regulations.