Bugging Out: Vegetarians Upset With Starbucks’ Use of Beetle Extract

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In an effort to avoid artificial additives in its drinks, Starbucks got vegetarians peeved by using a new ingredient in its strawberry products, ABC News reports. That ingredient? Extract from dried, crushed cochineal beetles, as part of its red dye.

A vegan Starbucks barista outed the company on thisdishisvegetarian.com by posting a list of ingredients used in the company’s Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino and strawberry smoothies.

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Starbucks had previously stated these drinks, which can be made using soy milk, could be made vegan, running a campaign touting the “However-You-Want-it Frappuccino.” But the Seattle-based coffee giant recently reworked its ingredient list for the Frappuccino mix and opted for the extract in an effort to move away from “artificial dyes,” according to a statement from Starbucks posted by the vegetarian website.

The statement reads that the company’s goal is to minimize artificial ingredients in products. While ingredients can be mixed to create a vegan drink, Starbucks can not guarantee pure a pure vegan drink because of the possibility of cross-contamination within stores.

But vegan or not, before you get grossed out by the beetle products, take a closer look at not only Starbucks, but also a wide range of products that you may use every day. Cochineal extract, used since the 15th century, is a common additive used in a range of dairy products. (And cosmetics, for that matter, but we don’t recommend eating those.)

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