In an effort to use more natural ingredients, Starbucks is now using coloring from the cochineal insect to make their Strawberry Frappucinos pink. “Cochineal extract is derived fromÂ grinding upÂ insects, the dried bodies of cochineal bugs, found primarily in Mexico and South America.” -Â ABC News As noted in the original article, there are lots of food items that are colored using insects. Aside from using ground up bugs to color high calorie drinks just being gross, cochineal insects have been found to cause allergic reactions and even lead to asthma.
Pictured above is an image of dye from the cochineal insect. However a good old-fashioned Google Images search will show you pictures of the cochineal insect itself and how it’s turned into a coloring.
This ABC news article mentions that vegans have been asking if this drink is vegan… Come on! It doesn’t take much to realize that animal ingredients = not vegan. However, Starbucks did issue a response to these vegans :
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.
Starbucks is a coffee company that, I personally, find a lot less vegan friendly than most people seem to. They do offer several vegan options when it comes to food (fruit cups, dried fruit, plain bagels, multi-grain bagels and one pre-packaged meal are vegan) yet they have very little offerings when it comes to their drinks.
It’s rumored that a lot of their syrups are now vegan, and I know a lot of vegans who drink them, but I remain skeptical. A lot of Starbucks syrups and flavors had, until recently, listed various dairy products in their ingredients. As of fall 2011, a lot of these ingredients were changed. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean the dairy isn’t still present. As reported by Your Daily Vegan, a lot of the Starbucks syrups and flavors now list “natural and artificial flavors” that could be any number of things. The FDA allows hundreds of ingredients, both plant and animal based, to fall into this category. Starbucks also isn’t even sure of the source of its sugar, the type of sugar, or how it’s processed. I also think it’s great to note that Starbucks themselves, in the above statement, has said that they are unable to guarantee that any beverage is free from animal ingredients.
In my mind, if Starbucks can’t tell me what exactly is in their flavorings and syrups, I can’t trust it. If they also tell me that I can’t be guaranteed a drink free from animal ingredients, that tells me a lot about what their “natural and artificial flavors” could be and where their sugar probably comes from. I’ll stick with iced coffee with soy milk, iced tea with no sweetener, or a London Fog with no syrups or sweeteners.
Vegan, vegetarian or otherwise – What do you think about this new addition to the Starbucks menu?
Images & Source : ABC News