Last month we reported that a vegan barrista discovered that Starbucks uses cochineal extract in some of their red-hued menu offerings. How is the mega-coffee company responding to customer pressure to stop using the the bug-derived food coloring?
Bye bye bugs
According to Nation’s Restaurant News, the Starbucks Corp. will phase out the use of cochineal extract, also called carmine, in several beverages and food items by the end of June 2012 due to customer backlash. Though Starbucks claims it started using the bug-derived food coloring as a way to eliminate artificial ingredients, there are plenty of vegans and non-vegans alike who don’t want to consume insect extract along with their morning coffee and breakfast eats.
Starbucks items containing cochineal extract
Items made with cochineal extract include the strawberries and crème Frappuccino, strawberry smoothie, raspberry swirl cake, birthday cake pops, mini donuts with pink icing and red velvet whoopee pies. Now the Seattle-based coffee company is rethinking their red-hued drinks and eats.
“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,” blogged Cliff Burrows, the president of Starbucks’ Americas division. “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.”
New bug-free formulations for Starbucks
Instead of using cochineal extract, Starbucks is going to reformulate the strawberry frappuccino and smoothie mixtures with lycopene, a natural tomato-based extract. The existing products that contain cochineal extract will also be reformulated by the end of June across the United States.