What's the secret Latin ingredient in Starbucks strawberry frappuccino? It's gross

How do you feel about having healthier drinks that don't contain any artificial ingredients? What if the healthier drink was the Starbucks Strawberry Frappuccino, which contains dried bugs used as dye (instead of artificial coloring)?

A report just came out from This Dish is Vegetarian, claiming that a barista at Starbucks alerted the site that the drink, which was formerly thought to be vegan (as in, it contains no animal products), uses a new strawberry flavoring that contains "cochineal extract", basically crushed up dried bugs that give it that pink strawberry-like coloring. Are you disgusted yet?


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The most interesting (or most gross?) part is that Starbucks is actually defending their use of this additive. A spokesperson told the vegetarian site:

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.

Um, excuse me? They're using crushed up bugs--which happen to come from South American and Mexico!--as dye instead of artificial dyes, which is nice, but aren't considering other natural food colors? I can think of a few, like red beets, purple sweet potatoes or even paprika that might work.

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But apparently cochineal extract has been around for a while, since the FDA says that it is a safe dye for food and cosmetic labels. It can be found in wines, yogurts, candies, fruit drinks, ice creams, ketchup, lipsticks, eyeshadows, nail polish, etc. Safe or not, though, I'm fairly grossed out that who knows how many of my favorite products contain it. For one thing, I'm going to seriously rethink drinking those Starbucks strawberry frappuccinos. Oh yeah, and start checking more labels.

Will you keep drinking the Starbucks strawberry frappuccinos, now knowing that they get their pink color from dried bugs?

Images via Reinis Traidas/flickr, Wikimedia Commons