Boycott Watch  
March 27, 2012
Starbucks Proudly Offers Ground-Up Bugs In Their Beverages.
Summary: Starbuck's discloses their 'natural' products include crushed insects as a food coloring.
   In August, 2006, Boycott Watch posted an article titled 'Groups Move to Ban FDA Approved Bugs in Food' which discussed how ground bugs are used as food coloring ingredient in food, and how the FDA allows companies to hide the fact.

   Now, Starbucks has revealed it has also hidden the fact, and that the company has been using the Bugs to color their strawberry beverages, giving it a 'natural' color. Boycott Watch wants to know what is wrong with using actual strawberries to make strawberry beverages look like, well, strawberry beverages.

   Starbucks's responded to our enquiry as follows:

   "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 StarbuckAs 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."

   Boycott Watch then asked for a direct confirmation they use carmine / cochineal extracts in beverages and received the following reply: "The strawberry base for our Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino does contain cochineal extract, a common all-natural colorant that is used in the food industry, and it helps us move away from artificial dyes." We also saw it listed as an ingredient on the red box of their strawberry base.

   Businesses have been hiding the fact that they use bugs for red food coloring for years. We say this because while they list item, they never disclose that it is in fact a ground up insect. The reason the Starbucks case has become an issue is nobody expected Starbucks, a company that touts their corporate responsibility to customers and the environment, would feed their customers insects without telling them. While Starbucks now talks about how their strawberry products are not vegan, the fact is they broke trust with their customers, and not just vegans. For years, kosher consumers have been drinking some Starbucks beverages, but the cross-contamination will keep them and many non-kosher consumers away too.

   Fred Taub, President of Boycott Watch said "Consumer backlash has occurred every time carmine / cochineal extracts are discovered in their food, and rightfully so. People do not want to eat bugs. If people really knew what carmine or cochineal extracts actually is, they would reject the products outright. While Starbucks may call it "a common all-natural colorant," the fact is arsenic, lead and mercury are all natural too, but I certainly don't wzant to eat those either. While Starbucks may not be doing anything wrong per USFDA food standards, Starbucks has built its reputation on offering superior products. This time they failed."

   Boycott Watch expects to see a drop in Starbucks sales as a result, and not just in their strawberry product sales.

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