There's nothing like a strawberry Frappuccino from Starbucks on a hot day! Unless you're a vegetarian. Or don't like drinking bugs. What's that?
Indeed, unsuspecting slurper, it seems that when it comes to making its strawberry Frappuccino that perfect pink color…
The company is using cochineal extract, which comes from ground-up cochineal bugs.
More like "Starbugs!" Here's a picture for your enjoyment.
Apparently cochineal beetles are native to Mexico and South America and have long been used to make carmine dye, a traditional bright red pigment that's been used since the time of the Aztecs to dye clothing and the like and as, you guessed it, food coloring.
In a statement, Starbucks had the following to say:
At Starbucks, we strive to carry products that meet a variety of dietary lifestyles and needs. While the strawberry base isn’t a vegan product, it helps us move away from artificial dyes.
Starbucks' 'cinos have been dairy-free for a couple of years now, so their use of brightly-colored bug-mash will be unwelcome news for vegans (and anyone turned off by bug-mash). Still that's a fairly unholy color and I suppose we should be glad that the Seattle coffee titans aren't using spine-melting chemicals to achieve it. (Stay tuned for an investigative report on whether Gatorade is colored with mantis-paste!) Furthermore, it seems cochineal extract can already be found in a variety of red and pink food products from juice to ice cream often couched under vague labels like "Crimson Lake, Natural Red 4, C.I. 75470, or E120."
But, yeah, you're drinking bugs! So focus on that.