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.

You can follow Stephen Hui on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Comments (13) Add New Comment
sarah c
Its no surprise!!! A lot of colouring uses things like that. Yeah its gross but that's the reason you want them to stop?get real.
6
4
Rating: +2
Maya Beckersmith
This President's Choice juice ( http://bit.ly/HzdDLM ) also contains cochineal, which I only discovered after taking a sip. Gross. Why does "100%" juice need to have bugs in it, or any colouring at all? Blech.
11
9
Rating: +2
Edna
100% juice is NEVER 100% juice. Would you rather they use chemical dyes? Get real. So much concern over beetles. No one here cares about the people in their own backyard.
9
6
Rating: +3
Dealio
Who gives a flying fcuk, really.
7
6
Rating: +1
Yawn
I had no idea there was so much pressing, vegan-specific news in the world until I read the Georgia Straight.
8
11
Rating: -3
Loopynainai
If you don't want to have rolls in your belly or be obese, stop drinking these frappucinos and just have a glass of water this way no more Fear Factor beetles in your belly.
10
8
Rating: +2
Tylrr
Same person posting 4 times...yawn
9
8
Rating: +1
Jhorne
Knew that yesrs ago.
9
10
Rating: -1
Anton
I drank a glass full of tiny ants once while working in the Caribbean... I had been working some 15 hours straight and was just settling down for a tasty rum and pineapple, went to the bathroom and when I came back the ants had swarmed my drink... Exhausted, I shrugged and knocked it back. Surprisingly not bad.
9
9
Rating: 0
A. MacInnis
I'm just stunned (and in an odd way impressed) that beetles are used in the production of a food colouring. Isn't it kind of paleolithic? Have we really evolved so little? Somehow this seems cause for hope...
6
10
Rating: -4
scathie
Oh no! Not organic food colouring! What is this world coming to??!?

Isn't there any real news to report?
9
9
Rating: 0
ChuckWPG
It is my understanding that Starbucks never touted this product vegan. Just because something contains soy milk only means it lactose free not vegan. It is the responsibility of every "practicing vegan" to do his or her own research in regards to anything they plan to consume. Vegans have no grounds for outrage because the recipe has been served for roughly two years and the outrage regarding this story only took on a life of its own in the media(no pun intended) just last week. Internet lynch mobs are often on the wrong side of the facts, this time appears to be no different.
5
9
Rating: -4
Sandy Sandwitch
"I had no idea there was so much pressing, vegan-specific news in the world until I read the Georgia Straight"

Life is better with open eyes isn't it?

13
9
Rating: +4
Add new comment
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.