Feature: Food & Living

No More Bugs in Starbucks Mugs, Please!

Author: Steve Woods
Published: March 27, 2012 at 9:53 pm
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During the dark of night some time ago, a Starbucks coffee shop supply truck near you began the process of delivering cups, straws, bags of coffee beans, bottles of flavorings, and bugs.

Billions of little, dead, crushed up insects.

In a recent press message Starbucks stated they'd had second thoughts about including an artificial red color in products including their soy-based Strawberries and Cream Frappuccino drink that, according to the company, could have "potential cross-contamination with other animal-derived products". In an effort to make the drink more delectable to vegans, someone in the recipe department passed up a number of natural red colorants when deciding on a replacement.

Like red beet extract. Or purple-colored yam juice. Or elderberry, choke berry, or even radish squeezings. You know, things made from food...

If you've been sucking down those Strawberries and Cream Fraps, smiling and enjoying that soy goodness, close your browser window now. Read no further, my vegan-loving friend, unless you want to retch for awhile and give up the drink forever.

The smart people in Starbuck's recipe department decided some years ago that the best alternative to the red dye in their popular "vegan-friendly" pink frappuccinos, Strawberry Smoothies and even their Red Velvet Whoopie Pies, was something called cochineal extract.

In case you don't know what that particular ingredient is, it's essentially the ground up female bodies of the cochineal insect, a bug that creates a deep red color when crushed. The smashed up cochineal female has been used to color foods for centuries, and has made an appearance in Tropicana's Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice, gels contained in some Dole fruit cups, and even for a time in Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream.

A barista in one of the Seattle coffee shops sent photos of the Strawberries and Cream Frap mix cartons to the website ThisDishIsVegetarian, asking how the drink could be considered vegan with a few teaspoons of the ground up bugs in each serving. In response, the site delisted the drink as vegan, and a number of sites virally shared the information.

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Article Author: Steve Woods

Tech Geek. Digital Sommelier. Tea Aficionado. Founder of http://www.kupeesh.com Twitter: @YouKnowSteve

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