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Starbucks Bans Crushed-Bugs Food Dye

The coffee giant has been using a food coloring dye made with crushed cochineal insects.

Customers bugged by Starbucks use of a food coloring dye that was made with crushed cochineal insects won’t have to worry about that when they are snacking on cake pops or sipping on a strawberry-flavored frappuchino.

Starbucks Corp has decided to no longer use the red dye made with the ground up insects from Mexico and South America, the Los Angeles Times reported.  

Company President Cliff Burroughs today announced the change in direction from using cochineal extract on Starbucks’ blog, citing feedback from customers as a key reason for the switch.

Instead of the dye using the crushed insects, Starbucks is looking to switch to something more palatable to the public.

“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," Burroughs wrote. "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).”

Lots of the feedback on the company’s blog came from people who did not object to the dye because of the bugs per se, but because it is not an option for vegans.

Many didn’t get why the dye was needed in the first place.

“Why not just use real food, real strawberries? Don't look for a different 'all natural' solution,” wrote starlamarie. “Use the REAL thing. Accept NO substitutes.”

Others expressed concerns about allergies to cochineal extract.

“My teenage son is allergic to cochineal extract, but stays away from anything red or pink due to the fact that you can't be sure what's in it,” wrote dragonfly73.  “We are all Starbucks addicts and would have appreciated it if this was clearly stated in the cafe and drive-thru.”

Some didn’t get the fuss.

“I don't see the problem,” wrote nadamsjr.  “Are we worried about the bugs or health? Cochineal extract is a centuries old food coloring long proven safe. Using natural food coloring is certainly better than most alternatives.”

There is one Starbucks location in Sierra Madre:

1 Kersting CourtSierra Madre, CA 91024

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