Last month, Starbucks created a tempest in a coffee cup when the company revealed that many of its strawberry flavored products—including its Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino— contained cochineal extract, a red dye made from crushed beetles. That made the products unpalatable to vegetarians, those observing kosher dietary laws, and others who squirm at the thought of ingesting bug products.
After the heated protests from customers, Starbucks decided to go vegan with its pink food colorings, switching to a tomato-based extract instead. Here’s an excerpt from the blog posted Thursday by Starbuck US president Cliff Burrows.
As I first shared on March 29, 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. After a thorough, yet fastidious, evaluation, I am pleased to report that we are reformulating the affected products to assure the highest quality possible. Our expectation is to be fully transitioned to lycopene, a natural, tomato-based extract, in the strawberry sauce (base) used in our Strawberries Cr�me Frappuccino� blended beverage and Strawberry Banana Smoothie. Likewise, we are transitioning away from the use of cochineal extract in our food offerings which currently contain it (Raspberry Swirl Cake, Birthday Cake Pop, Mini Donut with pink icing, and Red Velvet Whoopie Pie). This transition will occur over time as we finalize revisions and manage production. Our intention is to be fully transitioned from existing product inventories to revised food and beverage offerings near the end of June across the U.S