Starbucks Replaces Crushed Bug Dye In Drinks With Tomato Extract, Vegans Rejoice

By : Subscribe to IBTimes's | April 20, 2012 1:58 AM IST

Starbucks announced Thursday that it is phasing out the used of cochineal dye extract - made from crushed up bugs - in its foods and drinks. It will be replaced with a vegan friendly extract.

Starbucks U.S. President Cliff Burrows wrote in a blog post that they are "transitioning" away from the use of crushed bug extract.

He wrote that Starbucks "fell short of your expectations by using natural cochineal extract as a colorant in four food and two beverage offerings in the United States."

The coffee chain will switch to using lycopene, a natural tomato-based extract, in their strawberry sauce used in its Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino and Strawberry Banana smoothie.

It will also be used in their food products that were once made with cochineal extract like Raspberry Swirl Cake, Birthday Cake Pop, Mini Donut with pink icing, and Red Velvet Whoopie Pie.

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The news of Starbucks' cochineal bug extract usage came to light when a Seattle barista tipped off thisdishisvegetarian.com that the frappuccinos were no longer vegan friendly. After the news broke, the managing director of the site, Daelyn Fortney created a petition on Change.org calling attention to the strawberry sauce.

Around 6, 692 people signed the petition to stop Starbucks from using the extract.

In a post on the petition website entitled "How We Won", Fortney wrote that "what originally began as a story to inform vegans that their Starbucks' Strawberry Frappuccino was no longer safe to consume ended up being an issue that bothered many people. Individuals across the country and world turned their single voices into one steady roar that informed Starbucks of their displeasure. Thanks to social media and my petition on Change.org, within a matter of weeks, Starbucks has agreed to rectify the situation, showing that it is a stand-up company that cares about its consumers."

The coffee chain once touted their Starbucks Frappuccino line as being vegan friendly. They switched to using cochineal bug extract about one month ago. However, after the post on thisisvegetarian.com brought the issue to light, backlash was swift against the company.

"As a company, we always strive to exceed your expectations, and we take your feedback very seriously. Based on recent feedback, we learned that we fell short of these expectations by using cochineal extract," Burrows wrote in a blog post at the time.

Starbucks originally made the switch to cochineal bug extract in an effort to cut down on the amount of artificial ingredients in their products.

The FDA considers cochineal extract is a safe dye to use in food and cosmetics, though a 2009 ruling said companies had to print the ingredient on their labels. Yet the World Health Organization found that cochineal extract can cause severe allergic reactions in some individuals. Others may experience an allergic reaction.

Burrows wrote that they will fully transition away from cochineal bug extract by the end of June this year.

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