Starbucks drops bug powder to dye drinks amid public outcry
NEW YORK, April 21 — After facing a public outcry from vegetarians and vegans for using ground-up beetles to dye its drinks pink, Starbucks has announced it has swapped out the natural food colorant with a tomato-based extract.
In a blog post this week, the coffee giant said it will be replacing the cochineal extract — essentially crushed bugs from South America — with lycopene to dye the strawberry sauce used in beverages like Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino and Strawberry Banana Smoothies.
It’s the second time Starbucks has had to reformulate its drinks in North America. What originally started as good intentions — the company wanted to drop the artificial dye it had been using —went awry after it was revealed that the all-natural colorant was made with crushed beetles.
What ensued was a public outcry from outraged vegetarians and vegans who started a petition urging the company to drop cochineal on Change.org. The petition got nearly 6,700 signatures.
In a letter to consumers on April 19, Starbucks president Cliff Burrows said the company will likewise make a transition away from cochineal extract in foods like red velvet whoopie pies, raspberry swirl cake and the birthday cake pop.
The changes are expected to be implemented across North America by June.
Meanwhile, a Starbucks spokesperson told Relaxnews the beetle extract was never used in the company’s European market, where products are dyed with another natural colorant.
Cochineal extract is also labelled as carmine in other food products and cosmetics like lipstick and shampoo. — AFP-Relaxnews