| Prior to the Boycott Watch reports March, 2012 about
how Starbucks was using
insects to color some of their drinks
red, we had also
reported how various groups were
asking the US FDA to ban
the bugs as food coloring.
Carmine / "cochineal extracts" are used to create
vibrant red in food. The names, however, don't reveal the facts of the product,
which are just crushed insects. You can see the process
in this video as well
as this one.
After three weeks of intense consumer pressure and calls from
Boycott Watch to stop selling all products containing the crushed insects,
Starbucks has issued a statement that it will phase out the usage of the
insects completely, and replace the ingredient with lycopene, the same
ingredient that makes ketchup a more vibrant red.
As I first shared on March 29, we've learned that we fell short of your
expectations by using natural cochineal extract as a colorant in four food and
two beverage offerings in the United States. Our commitment to you, our
customers, is to serve the highest quality products available. As our customers
you expect and deserve better - and we promise to do better.
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
We thank you for your continued feedback, support and comments, and we
encourage you to continue to share your thoughts here as well.
President, Starbucks U.S.
"Starbucks did the right thing" said Fred Taub,
President of Boycott Watch. "Consumers lost confidence in Starbucks when
they found out what they were paying for, and the backlash proves the power of
consumer outrage and boycotts. Starbucks took appropriate steps but will have
an uphill battle to regain consumer confidence because bad news sticks in the
mind of consumers. Other companies which use the ground-up insects to color
their products red should take note of the consumer outrage at Starbucks and
remove ground-up insects from their foods to avoid facing consumer backlash