It was recently discovered that the Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino as well as the Strawberry Smoothies at Starbucks contain cochineal extract. So what is cochineal extract?
Well, simply stated… bugs.
An anonymous barista for the Seattle-based coffee company blew the whistle with the following communique:
“Hi! I’m a vegan who currently works as a barista at a Starbucks in the midwest, and I wanted to let you guys know that the Strawberries and Cream Frappucinos and Strawberry Smoothies at Starbucks are NOT vegan. The strawberry sauce we use contains “cochineal extract”. My guess would be that the recipe changed about three or four weeks ago, when our strawberry sauce got new packaging. I was hoping you guys could help get the word out there so that no vegans end up drinking this formerly vegan frappucino by mistake! Thanks. :)”
She also snapped a picture of the packaging:
Cochineal extract is a red dye made out of dried female cochineal insects. Reports indicate it takes 70,000 cochineal to produce 1 pound of the red dye. Known to cause a rare, but severe allergic reaction in some individuals, the FDA requires manufacturers to list the “cochineal” in the ingredient’s list.
Once promoted as vegan-friendly drinks (when made with soy milk), the strawberry beverages at Starbucks are no longer an option to those following a plant-based diet. Additionally, the drinks are not safe for those following a kosher diet.
In response to a recent article on This Dish is Veg that warned readers of the cochineal extract, Starbucks provided the following statement:
“At Starbucks, we strive to carry products that meet a variety of dietary lifestyles and needs. We also have the goal to minimize artificial ingredients in our products. While the strawberry base isn’t a vegan product, it helps us move away from artificial dyes.”
While it’s commendable to move away from artificial ingredients, there are other natural means to achieve the red coloring. Red beet, black carrot, purple sweet potato and paprika are all-natural alternatives to artificial dyes and safe for those with dietary restrictions. (And those who don’t want crushed bugs in their designer drink.)
Special thanks to Daelyn Fortney, located at: http://www.thisdishisvegetarian.com/
Change.org, located at: https://www.change.org/