Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bugged by Starbucks?

The Beetlejuice that's scaring folks today isn't a Tim Burton movie. For some, it's finding out that Starbucks started using crushed beetles to color their strawberry frappuccino, strawberry smoothies and other items. Specifically, they used the female Cochineal, a insect with the appearance of a tick that lives off cacti plants and produces a substance called carminic acid. This substance is refined and used to make red carmine dye. Once used in the coloring of fabrics, it was approved for use in food products and makeup by the US Food and Drug Administration. However, in early 2011, the FDA required that food or cosmetics containing the die needed to express it on the ingredient label.

Vegans, vegetarians and others were upset upon finding what they were unknowingly consuming. A company barista, who was vegan, alerted a vegetarian web site and sent a photo of the ingredients in their strawberry sauce. Starbucks released a statement saying they would be reviewing alternative ingredients. The press release read, "While it is a safe, sterilized product that poses no health risk, we are reviewing alternative natural ingredients."

Really Starbucks--why not just really go au naturel and cut out the dyes, whether "natural" or artificial, plus any synthetic flavoring. How about just sticking to strawberries?

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