Starbucks is under fire this week for revealing that its Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino and strawberry-flavored smoothies contain cochineal extract—a red dye made out of dried, crushed, female cochineal beetles. This news has enraged some vegetarian groups that were under the impression the products, when ordered with soy milk, contained no animal products.
“We are very, very unhappy to now report that the Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino as well as the Strawberry Smoothies (both made with soy milk) are NOT vegan,” reads an article posted on the website thisdishvegetarian.com.
Two years ago, Starbucks unveiled its “However-You-Want-It Frappuccino,” agreeing to use soy milk instead of regular milk for vegans—who don’t eat any animal products—and others who preferred soy. Thisdishvegetarian.com posted back then that it verified with Starbucks that “the “crème base” used in the Frappuccino does not contain dairy and in fact is actually sugar based.”
Too bad it didn’t ask about bugs.
A Starbucks barista who’s a vegan recently outed the company by sending a photo to the vegetarian site with a list of ingredients in the strawberry sauce, which included cochineal extract.
For those who keep kosher, cochineal extract is considered an unacceptable food additive. Some people are allergic to the extract, which is found in a wide range of products from ice cream to yogurt to cosmetics.
Starbucks confirmed in an e-mail that its strawberry sauce contained cochineal extract and said in a statement that it strives “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.”
The company also said it couldn’t “guarantee” that any of its beverages are free of animal-derived products due to “potential cross-contamination with other animal-derived products in our retail locations.”Deborah Kotz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @debkotz2.