In an effort to reduce the artificial ingredients in their products, Starbucks began using a new red coloring for their Strawberries and Crème Frappuccinos and Strawberry Smoothies in January — ground up cochineal beetles. Some are praising Starbucks’ all-natural modifications, but others want the vegan-friendly version of their soy drinks back.
Daelyn Fortney, co-founder of the vegan website, ThisDishIsVeg.com, broke the news on the website after an anonymous Starbucks barista informed her of the change. The barista wrote in, “I was hoping you guys could help get the word out there so that no veg*ns end up drinking this formerly vegan Frappuccino by mistake! Thanks. :).”
The publicity may have a negative effect on Frappuccino sales, which account for $2 billion of Starbucks’ total global business. Fortney’s post suggests solutions that might accommodate both Starbucks’ going-natural mission and vegans’ practices, such as using red beet, black carrot, purple sweet potato and paprika as replacements for artificial dyes.
Starbucks lists the insect extract as an ingredient on the strawberry sauce packaging, so maybe it was just a matter of time before other curious employees or customers googled “cochineal,” to reveal the thinly-shelled secret anyway. Other natural products that use beetles for their red coloring like yogurt, ice cream, and juice drinks, use the more covert ingredient label, “carmine.”
If you are vegan or just want to show solidarity, you may sign this petition requesting Starbucks to “stop using bugs” in their drinks.