If you order a Starbucks Strawberry Frappuccino, you’ll be ordering crushed cochineal bugs. Starbucks is using cochineal extract to color their Strawberry Frappuccinos in an effort to reduce the use of artificial ingredients.
A vegetarian website, thisdishisvegetarian.com was notified from a Starbucks barista that the Strawberry Frappuccino is not vegan and is using cochineal extract in the drink. The barista told the website, “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!”
They also sent pictures showing Starbucks Frappuccino ingredients containing cochineal extract:
Cochineal extract has been used since the 15th century to color foods and fabrics. The extract is also known as “carmine” or “crimson lake.” The Food and Drug Administration has deemed cochineal extract safe to use, but now companies have to print the ingredient on their labels. From the FDA website, “On January 5, 2009, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a final rule in the Federal Register that amended its regulations to require the declaration by name of the color additives cochineal extract and carmine on the label of all food and cosmetic products in the United States. The final rule is effective on January 5, 2011, although FDA encourages manufacturers to have new labels printed that are in compliance with the new requirements so they may be used as soon as current inventories are exhausted to ensure a smooth and timely changeover.”
The World Health Organization, said it the extract can cause asthma in some people, and in some others an allergic reaction. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) petitioned the FDA in 1998 to get the ingredient labeled on packaging after a University of Michigan allergy expert discovered that carmine was the cause of an allergic reaction in one of his patients. Since then, the CSPI has received many complaints about consumers having adverse reactions from the cochineal extract in products.
A Starbucks spokesperson has replied and stated, “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. Many Starbucks ingredients can be combined to create a beverage free from animal-derived products; however, we are unable to guarantee this due to the potential cross-contamination with other animal-derived products in our retail locations.”