Some vegan Starbucks lovers were happy to hear the news last year that the coffee chain would be adding a vegan food option. Prior to that, the company began offering their “However-You-Want-It Frappucino,” which could be ordered vegan with soy milk.
Now, some of their beverages are not animal product-free even when ordered with non-dairy milk. Starbucks is now using cochineal extract, a red dye made by crushing cochineal beetles, to color their Strawberries and Creme Frappucino as well as their strawberry smoothies.
A vegan Starbucks employee wrote to thisdishisvegetarian.com and gave a list of the ingredients in the products. The site also points out PETA’s statement that it can take up to 70,000 cochineal beetles to produce just one pound of the dye.
According to Huffington Post, cochineal extract is commonly found in both food and cosmetic products, but is a new addition for Starbucks. In a statement, Starbucks claims the dye is part of an effort to use natural ingredients. “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.”
They add that even if customers get a beverage without animal products, there can still be “cross-contamination with other animal-derived products in our retail locations.” I don’t expect many vegan Starbucks customers to hear that and say “Oh well in that case I’ll get the frappucino with the crushed beetles, since there’s a chance of cross-contamination anyway.”
Daelyn Fortney of thisdishisvegetarian has launched a Change.org petition calling on Starbucks to stop their use of cochineal extract. Fortney points out that there are other natural foods that can be used for the coloring, such as “red beet, black carrot, purple sweet potato and paprika.” The petition currently has a 5,000 signature goal, and has over 3,500 signatures.
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