Starbucks Stops Using Bug Extract In Products

Cochineal extract has the vague name one would come to expect from a food ingredient. And for years, it’s been used as a food coloring option for people looking to get a nice red hue in their edible items. But what some folks don’t know is the “cochineal” in cochineal extract is a tiny insect that is pulverized to make the red dye.

Starbucks had been using cochineal extract to give some color to two of its Frappuccino flavors and a handful of food items, hoping that customers would be glad it wasn’t using artificial coloring agents. But the coffee colossus only managed to anger vegan customers and others who were icked out by the insect thing (even though it’s widely used in a variety of other food products).

So today, Starbucks’ President Cliff Burrows announced it was ditching the buggy coloring in favor of a tomato-based colorant:

After a thorough, yet fastidious, evaluation, I am pleased to report that we are reformulating the affected products to assure the highest quality possible. Our expectation is to be fully transitioned to lycopene, a natural, tomato-based extract, in the strawberry sauce (base) used in our Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino blended beverage and Strawberry Banana Smoothie. Likewise, we are transitioning away from the use of cochineal extract in our food offerings which currently contain it (Raspberry Swirl Cake, Birthday Cake Pop, Mini Donut with pink icing, and Red Velvet Whoopie Pie).

This transition will occur over time as we finalize revisions and manage production. Our intention is to be fully transitioned from existing product inventories to revised food and beverage offerings near the end of June across the U.S.


Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.