Beetles give Starbucks Strawberry Frappuccino that nice pink colour
What gives the Strawberries and Crème Frappuccino at Starbucks its pink colour? If you thought it was the strawberries, think again.
Earlier this month, the ubiquitous coffee chain was outed for its use of cochineal extract (crushed beetles) in its Strawberries and Crème Frappuccino and Strawberry Smoothies. When ordered with soy milk and without whipped cream, these drinks had been touted as suitable for vegans.
An anonymous vegan barista revealed to the blog This Dish Is Veg that the ingredient list for the strawberry base had changed to include the beetle colouring. Now, an online petition called "Starbucks: Stop using bugs to color your strawberry flavored drinks" has gathered more than 3,000 signatures.
On Thursday (March 29), Starbucks U.S. president Cliff Burrows responded to the uproar with a statement:
As a company, we always strive to exceed your expectations, and we take your feedback very seriously. Based on recent feedback, we learned that we fell short of these expectations by using cochineal extract. This commonly used ingredient is a natural, FDA-approved colorant found in a wide variety of food and beverage products in the U.S.
We use the extract in the strawberry base for our Strawberries and Crème Frappuccino, Strawberry Smoothies and three food items – the Birthday Cake Pop, Mini Donut with pink icing, and Red Velvet Whoopie Pie. While it is a safe product that poses no health risk, we are reviewing alternative natural ingredients.
According to PETA, cochineal, also known as carmine and carminic acid, is found in cosmetics, shampoos, red apple sauce, red lollipops, and food coloring. An estimated 70,000 beetles die to make one pound of red dye.