Report: Starbucks Frappuccinos Dyed with Crushed Up Bugs

by | March 27, 2012 at 5:49 PM | General

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

A Starbucks barista reveals that the Seattle-based coffee giant’s Strawberry Frappuccino recently had a recipe makeover, and now uses an ingredient that includes crushed up bugs to achieve its rosy, pink color.

According to, the new recipe contains “cochineal extract,” which is a red dye made of ground up bodies of cochineal insects. This change was apparently made in an effort to reduce Starbucks’ use of artificial ingredients.

Cochineal extract has been used for thousands of years to color fabrics. It can also be found in a variety of foods, including some jams, alcoholic drinks and cheeses, as well as some cosmetics. Although companies are increasingly moving away from the ingredient, it is considered safe by the FDA.

The barista said: “The strawberry sauce we use contains ‘cochineal extract.’ My guess would be that the recipe changed about three or four weeks ago, when our strawberry sauce got new packaging.”

“I was hoping you guys could help get the word out there so that no vegans end up drinking this formerly vegan frappucino [sic] by mistake! Thanks,” the tipster added.

Starbucks responded that they “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.”

The report has prompted a petition on that calls on Starbucks to use other natural alternatives for food coloring, including red beets, purple sweet potatoes and paprika.

The World Health Organization says consuming cochineal extract has been tied to asthma for some.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.