Last month, This Dish Is Vegetarian broke the news that Starbucks’ Strawberries and Creme Frappucino was not vegan even if ordered with soy milk. Why? The beverage, along with other Starbucks products included cochineal extract, or food dye made from crushed beetles. The news, originally shared by a vegan Starbucks employee, led to public outrage over the ingredient and thousands of signatures on a petition started by This Dish Is Veg founder Daelyn Fortney.
Starbucks defended their decision to start using cochineal extract as part of their efforts to go with “all-natural” ingredients. According to This Dish Is Veg, the company has now announced that they will stop using the extract and switch to another natural ingredient. “As I first shared on March 29, we’ve learned that we fell short of your expectations by using natural cochineal extract as a colorant in four food and two beverage offerings in the United States/Our commitment to you, our customers, is to serve the highest quality products available. As our customers you expect and deserve better – and we promise to do better,” said Starbucks president Cliff Burrows on their “Ideas in Action Blog.” Along with the frappucino, cochineal extract is currently in the Stawberry Banana Smoothie, Raspberry Swirl Cake, Birthday Cake Pop, Mini Donut with pink icing, and Red Velvet Whoopie Pie.
Burrows says Starbucks hopes to be transitioned away from cochineal extract and using lycopene in its place in these products in the U.S. by the end of June. If you look at the list of ingredients in the Strawberries and Creme Frappucino in the picture provided by This Dish Is Veg, you’ll notice lycopene was already in there…makes you wonder why they added cochineal extract in the first place, but at least it will be off the ingredients list soon.
Fortney writes on her petition update, “What originally began as a story to inform vegans that their Starbucks’ Strawberry Frappucino was no longer safe to consume ended up being an issue that bothered many people. Individuals across the country and world turned their single voices into one steady roar that informed Starbucks of their displeasure. Thanks to social media and my petition on Change.org, within a matter of weeks, Starbucks has agreed to rectify the situation, showing that it is a stand-up company that cares about its consumers.”