First it was pink slime in the headlines. Now it’s ground-up beetles. (Broccoli is sounding better all the time!) You may have seen a post about Starbucks and beetles on your Facebook page. Why? The Seattle-based coffee company recently decided to add a new red dye to its Strawberry & Creme Frappucinos. The dye is made from cochineal beetles.
According to USA Today, it is a “common, government-approved food coloring used widely throughout the food industry. It’s in everything from some Yoplait yogurts to three Kellogg’s Pop-Tart flavors.”
Can we just talk about the grossness factor? Now, I have eaten whole beetles before, and crickets, (with full disclosure) while living in Japan. I even downed a chocolate-covered ant in Sun Valley, Idaho. It’s still creepy to me. In all fairness, the ick factor is cultural–I have buddies from Germany who think peanut butter is digusting, while my Japanese friends are horrified by refried beans.
Starbucks says it’s just trying to be green, but vegans are concerned that they’ve been drinking the frappucinos since January and consuming insects unknowingly.
According to USA Today, alternative coloring choices Starbucks could use for their strawberry drinks include vegan colorings like red beet, black carrots or purple sweet potatoes. (Or as a friend pointed out on my Facebook page, real strawberies.)
The Huffington Post says Starbucks is likely to respond to the outcry by changing the dye. But what about all the other food manufacturers who are quietly continuing to use this beetle juice?
How do you feel about it? Would you knowingly consume a product dyed with cochinal beetles? What should Starbucks do now?