Strawberry Frappuccinos No Longer Vegan, Contain Ground-Up Bugs

A few years ago, we happily passed on the news that a change in Starbucks Frappuccino flavors meant that you could get some flavors in a vegan formulation. But now, if you’re a Frappuccino lover who eschews eating animals, you’ll have to stay away from the strawberry variety from here out. The good news is that the newest base doesn’t contain artificial red food dye. The bad news is that’s because it’s been replaced with cochineal extract, a dye made from dried, ground-up insects.

You might say “ew!” or just shrug this off, but it’s a big deal to vegans. The site This Dish is Veg tipped us off to the change, and they in turn learned about it from a vegan barista who read the new ingredients list. They checked in with Starbucks, and this was the company’s statement:

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.


Beware: Starbucks’ Soy Strawberries & Creme Frappuccino is NOT vegan [This Dish Is Veg]


Edit Your Comment

  1. rpm773 says:

    Hey, it’s a big deal to non-vegans, too. At least one non-vegan.

    I ain’t eatin’ no bugs, pal!

  2. eezy-peezy says:

    If we make it only from bugs that died a natural death, would that be OK?

  3. raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

    I wonder why they went with the bug extract rather than other common red dyes; I see beets used a lot to add red coloring.

    Cochineal is used in a lot of products; most people don’t even realize it unless they know that they’re tiny red bugs.

    • vorpalette says:

      I would much rather this be used versus artificial red dyes. I don’t notice anything, but I have friends who are allergic to red 40. I do agree that maybe beets would be a better choice, though.

    • foodfeed says:

      Bugs and lycopene (tomato coloring). They must have thought it made the most authentic strawberry color.

      • Applekid ‚îÄ‚îÄ‚î¨ Ôªø„Éé( „Çú-„Çú„Éé) says:

        How funny that even Strawberries aren’t authentic enough a Strawberry color.

        Those ingredients are also pretty awesome. Water before strawberry? GRAPE JUICE before strawberry? WTG Starbucks. :/

        • cybrczch says:

          Strawberry puree CONCENTRATE – ie water is added to dilute back to normal strength. Grape concentrate adds the sweetness and is probably a lot cheaper. You see it a lot in fruit juices, unless it states “100% x juice”, it is likely a blend of apple and white grape juice with just a little bit of the fruit on the label added, along with ‘natural flavors’.

    • The Porkchop Express says:

      maybe the bug has less of a taste than other natural dye options?

    • Jawaka says:

      They’re probably cheaper.

  4. deejmer says:

    Food scientists are freaking nuts.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      I’m guessing this technique is centuries old. You would be amazed what humans have been doing to create different dyes, makeups, foods, anything you can imagine.

      It may not be vegan, but it’s about as natural as you can get in dye-creation.

      • Mambru says:

        can then be considered organic?

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          My personal opinion? Yes. It’s obtained through nature.

          • Such an Interesting Monster says:

            I dunno, it depends upon how much pesticide is used to kill the suckers before grinding them up. I’d say it’s all-natural, but I’m not so sure about organic.

    • The Porkchop Express says:

      When my class went to St. Augustine FL in 92 or so ( I think thats where we were at least) they had a historical type clothing maker. She used these bugs to color fabric and told us they can be used for food coloring. So this isn’t all that new, been doing it since the 1990’s probably longer.

      • ahecht says:

        The dye has been used since the 14th century by the Inca and Aztecs. Roman Catholic Cardinals have used it to make their red robes since the 17th century, and the British “redcoats” in the revolutionary war were also dyed with Cochineal extract. Cochineal became a common food dye in the 18th century, although the Spanish made a huge effort to cover up the fact that it was insect based (they went as far as executing bug-farm workers to prevent them from revealing information)..

        The only recent change is that in the last few years, both the FDA and EU have passed laws that require food companies to explicitly list Cochineal extract (or carmine as it’s sometimes called) on ingredients lists. Before a couple of years ago, it would’ve just showed up under “natural colors”.

        • jefeloco says:

          I don’t doubt the vast majority of your info, yet I don’t believe that any cardinal has ever used bug paste to make his own robe red.

  5. DemosCat says:

    And how many bugs crawling in the strawberry fields (forever) got included with the strawberries?

    • Sarahlara says:

      Vegans are well aware you can’t remove all suffering from any product, but they still try to do whatever they can. In this case, there are good all-natural coloring agents available. If Starbucks won’t use them, then it’s good they’ve announced it.

      • crispyduck13 says:

        Bugs aren’t natural??

      • alana0j says:

        Not to be a smart ass-what would a vegan do if their house became infested with roaches or ants? Not kill them? Just co-habitate? You say they don’t condone unnecessary suffering, and that apparently includes these bugs, so I am curious.

        • HogwartsProfessor says:

          They could do this: someone told me once when I had ants to put a spoonful of sugar outside, someplace it wouldn’t be washed away, away from the house. I put it under the shed. Keep doing this once a week. The ants will find the sugar and abandon the house. I tried it and it WORKED.

          How to deal with roaches, I have no idea. I can’t imagine feeling sorry for one, however. Bluuuhhh.

          • alana0j says:

            The ant thing makes sense; I’ll have to try that if we ever happen to get an ant problem. But the apartment I currently live in is old as dirt so roaches get in. It doesn’t matter how clean I keep the place..and it makes me crazy! But I have no qualms with killing the bastards so I don’t know how one would remove them in a manner otherwise.

      • PsychicPsycho says:

        There’s nothing unnatural about cochineal.

  6. ExtraCelestial says:

    My guess is if you’re a vegan you’re pretty used to disappointment

  7. DuckNCover says:

    I now have a strong urge to check the ingredient list of every red food product in my kitchen.

  8. SerenityDan says:

    But aren’t the people who usually care about artificial ingredients also typically vegan? That’s kind of like cutting off your foot to avoid stubbing your toe.

    • kcvaliant says:

      Ahh, most vegans.. telling you how right they are while on their ipad sipping a drink at starbucks..

    • kcvaliant says:

      Ahh, most vegans.. telling you how right they are while on their ipad sipping a drink at starbucks..

  9. idx says:

    Don’t vegans eat a lot of bug? I mean, any time you’re eating harvested vegetables and fruits you’re probably getting a few bugs.

  10. momtimestwo says:

    Most make up contains ground up bugs for coloring too.

  11. parv says:

    “… if you’re a Frappuccino lover who *eschews* eating animals, you’ll have to stay away from the strawberry variety from here out …” — FTA.

    Lovely. :-)

  12. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I’m sure, over the course of a year, we all eat thousands of bugs.

    In prepackaged foods, food cooked in reasturants…even in our sleep.

    • DemosCat says:

      I’m pretty sure my wife doesn’t drop bugs in my mouth when I’m sleeping. Right honey?

      And speaking of honey, let’s not talk about where that ingredient comes from!

    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

      Note to self: decline any dinner invitations from AlteredBeast.

    • rpm773 says:

      Not me, man!

      Bug-free since ’93

      • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

        Ah, you are a member of Insectivores Anonymous?

        • rpm773 says:


          And, actually, I did fall off the wagon once in 2005. I spent a weekend in New Orleans gorging myself on crawdads. I’m not proud of it, but it happened.

    • Snowblind says:

      I would have to give up the motorcycle if I went Vegan =(

      Then again, based on my car front grill, being a Vegan means not driving either.

  13. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

    delicious bugs. Red velvet cake FTW

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      Mmm. Love it.

      Of course if they don’t want to make cake with cochineal extract in it, they can use blue or green food coloring. I’ve done that when I can’t find the red. The green especially makes a really cool St. Patrick’s Day cake. I’d like to try purple next time. :)

  14. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Fun Friday Fact: Ancient Egyptians used ant eggs as mascara.

    It may not be vegan-friendly, but those ingredients are about as natural as you can get for a mass-produced corporate product.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      Another fun ancient Egyptian fact:
      When a body was mummified, its brain was removed through one of its nostrils and its intestines were also removed and placed in jars called canopic jars.

      Of course, this has nothing to do with the post, but it is a fun fact.

      • Spaghettius! says:

        *the method of removing the brain through the nose, from what I gathered, was basically to shove a stick up there, wiggle it around vigirously to create brain-slurry, and then pull out the bits.

        *If an attarctive woman passed away, the family would hold on to the body for a little while before giving it over to the mummifiers, you know, as a deterrant.

        *Egyptian women used alligator poo as a contraceptive, and it must have been somewhat effective, due either to its acidic nature or the fact that no one’s gonna want you with that in your vag.

        *Ancient Egyptians had terrible teeth, due to the high sand content of their bread.

        *No single complete poem of the poetess Sappho exists today, but pieces have been found on the strips used to wrap bodies (this was during Roman times, so they might not have been Egyptian, but the idea of mummification came from them).

  15. dpeters11 says:

    So my question is, how do vegans handle the products that are allowed to have a certain amount of bug parts? It’s OK because its not listed and a very small percentage? Or is it because the bugs just had the unfortunate luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and they weren’t killed on purpose?

    • dpeters11 says:

      Just saw some other posts that seem to explain it.

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      I’ve always wondered the same thing about Jews and all their dietary restrictions. What if you eat something that unknowingly has dairy and animal products? Do you instantly get smote or can you ask God for a mulligan?

  16. anime_runs_my_life says:

    Oh, lord. I feel ill now. I buy the strawberry frap once a week after work as a treat. I’m not going to anymore now that I know this.

  17. Cicadymn says:

    This should be popular. TV chefs are always crying about how no ones loves to eat bugs, but they should because they’re (Buzzword time) sustainable. All those kids in third world countries eat bugs! So you should too!

  18. xantec says:

    “But now, if you’re a Frappuccino lover who eschews eating animals, you’ll have to stay away from the strawberry variety from here out. … The bad news is that’s because it’s been replaced with cochineal extract, a dye made from dried, ground-up insects.”

    Insects are animals now? When did that memo go out?

  19. tacitus59 says:

    For non-vegans …
    Nothing wrong with eating bugs; think of it as protein.

    For everyone …
    The real problem is that our whinny culture doesn’t want strawberry/cherry/etc flavored stuff to be gray in color. We want our food to look the same no matter what time of year it was bought or how it was stored or where it comes from.

    • xantec says:

      If we converted some of the corn/soy production into growing other fruits and vegetables there would be enough of everything stored (fresh, frozen, freeze-dried etc) that year round you could use actual ingredients and not have grey goop. Ever take strawberries and ice and blend them together? You don’t need any extra red coloring.

    • DemosCat says:

      Gray Slime! Yummy!

    • Michael Belisle says:

      I know! We want our strawberry-flavored stuff to look like it was made with, I don’t know, lots of strawberries instead of white grape juice with a splash of strawberry.

    • Jules Noctambule says:

      ‘Whinny’? Are you telling me our culture is made with HORSES?!?!

  20. amgriffin says:

    Like it or not, you probably eat bugs every day. You don’t have to do it voluntarily, though. I’ve got a craving for crawfish now.

  21. Total Casual says:

    Cochineal extract comes from bugs? That’s pretty cool. I’ve always wanted to try insect dishes but I’ve never been anywhere that they’re served.

  22. Joey G. says:

    I believe that this would also make it non-kosher.

    • The Porkchop Express says:

      I think so, they can eat locusts though. Don’t remember if it was just locusts or if there were rules regarding insects.

      Any Jewish folks/religious studies folks know?

      • ahecht says:

        It’s complicated. There are many agencies that do kosher certification, and they seem to be split on cochineal. While most Orthodox sources seem to agree that because it is derived from insects it isn’t kosher, there are a fair number of Orthodox rabbis that argue that once a food product is completely removed of all moisture it is no longer meat or fit for animal consumption and therefore more like wood than a food product. This dates back to biblical rulings on kosher wine carried in leather pouches from non-kosher animals.

  23. Straspey says:

    So – I’m at a private event recently with a buffet table.

    I’m standing at the table, filling my plate, while chatting with the pleasant young lady.

    She’s piling her plate with a cheese assortment, while I happen to notice a beautifully-prepared fresh-water fish, and ask if she’d like some.

    Her reply – “Thanks, but I don’t eat animal flesh.”


  24. foodfeed says:

    At least the bugs are dead. I ordered a sandwich while visiting Dachau and they must not have washed the produce. It had both smashed and crawling little bugs inside it.

  25. Dallas_shopper says:

    I wish companies wouldn’t use that crap. Not only is it bad news for people with dietary restrictions, religious or otherwise, it’s also an issue for people with food allergies.

    Bad Starbucks. Bad bad bad.

    • angienessyo says:

      It is your responsibility to ask to see the ingredients if you have any religious restrictions, dietary restrictions, or allergies that would prevent you from eating something.

      • Dallas_shopper says:


        I think the company bears an EQUAL responsibility when they put an additive into food that renders it non-kosher, non-halal, or potentially dangerous for people with food allergies…particiularly when that food item did not previously contain it.

        Seriously. Is it OK with you if I fucking die from an allergic reaction because I don’t ask EVERY SINGLE TIME if there’s a potential allergen in a food item that didn’t previously contain it? Would you BLAME me for dying? Would you say it’s my fault?

        • FashionablyDoomed says:

          “Seriously. Is it OK with you if I fucking die from an allergic reaction because I don’t ask EVERY SINGLE TIME if there’s a potential allergen in a food item that didn’t previously contain it? Would you BLAME me for dying? Would you say it’s my fault?”


        • Doubting thomas says:

          Sorry but yes. I mean I hope you don’t die but I do expect you to take responsibility for your own health and safety.
          For one thing people are far more likely to have a reaction to red dye #40 than they are from red bug juice. So in that case Starbucks is acting more responsibly to a larger portion of the population. For another thing if you have a rare food allergy then it is your responsibility to check ingredient labels. Companies change recipes all the time and have no responsibility to take out an advertising campaign every time they tweak a recipe or formula.

  26. galm666 says:

    Are the bug products clean/sanitary for ingestion? Yes? I don’t see a problem. Don’t forget that when we eat any shellfish like lobsters or crabs or shrimp, we’re eating invertebrates, which means we’re more or less eating large sea bugs.

    Don’t let it “bug” you.

  27. some.nerd says:

    New Starbucks Frappuccino slogan: “Slimy, yet satisfying!”

  28. PercussionQueen7 says:

    I am actually more grossed-out because the first ingredient is supercheap and sweet white grape juice rather than strawberries.

    As far as cochineal extract, would you rather have all-natural or chemical food coloring? I’ll take the bugs, thanks.

  29. failurate says:

    Vegans wouldn’t order this anyway, it contains milk.

  30. natebum says:

    I’m not a vegan but I don’t want to eat grounded up bugs/insects.

  31. Tacojelly says:

    Hey vegans, why don’t you stop watching movies since film is made of hooves? Or stop using any of the medicines or surgical practices that were and continue to be tested on animals?

    I’m not anti-vegan per se, but if you want to ABSOLUTELY not contribute to the killing of animals you have to live in a cave. Just don’t eat meat and dairy and quit complaining about what everyone else is doing.

  32. Pink Eyed Jim says:

    This also makes the strawberry frappuccino non-kosher, if I’m not mistaken. I had a Jewish friend for years who couldn’t eat M&Ms for the same reason: the red dye used cochineal. I think that Mars has since changed their ingredient.

    This simply shows the inherent goofiness of the “all-natural” food additive movement. If Sbux was using a no-bugs synthetic food coloring, they wouldn’t be able to call the frappuccino or its ingredients “all-natural.”

  33. Press1forDialTone says:

    Unbelievable. Of all the dyes they could have chosen that
    would have been everybody-friendly, Starbucks picks bug
    juice. You KNOW it was cheaper. Makes me so grateful that
    I know longer go to Starbucks. I got in a 12 step program and
    it worked for me.

  34. Ayla says:

    The problem is NOTHING is vegan in the first place. The land cleared for the strawberry fields, that was home to bugs, slugs, perhaps trees filled with birds and cute little woodland creatures, etc. They all died. The water diverted from a river, lake or stream to water the strawberries killed untold numbers of water living creatures and other creatures like birds who fed off them. They died. Then the strawberries were loaded up with toxic chemicals to kill all the bugs and creatures that came to eat them once they were planted. They died. Then they were trucked across a vast distance to be processed, lots of bugs and other furry animals slaughtered on the road ways while that mac truck barreled down the highway. Same goes for the grapes used in the grape juice in this case.

    Also, who in their right mind wants to eat red dye number 40? At least bugs are natural.