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Beetle coloring in Starbucks’ Strawberries & Creme Frappuccinos bugs vegans

Cochineal beetle

Cochineal beetle

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Updated: May 1, 2012 8:18AM

When Starbucks changed its Strawberries & Creme Frappuccino mix, it made sure the new ingredients were dairy-free. But no one said anything about being bug-free.

Turns out the strawberry sauce used in the coffee chain’s Frappuccinos contains cochineal extract — made from the bodies of ground-up cochineal beetles.

Starbucks made the switch in January, when it aggressively moved away from artificial ingredients.

An anonymous vegan barista who works for Starbucks sent a picture of the sauce’s ingredient list to a vegetarian blog called , which recently posted it.

The revelation sparked criticism, even though, gross as putting crushed bugs in a drink might sound, it’s a common, government-approved food coloring used widely. It’s in everything from some Yoplait yogurts to three Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts flavors.Daelyn Fortney, co-founder of, wants Starbucks to go back to using a vegan coloring like red beet or black carrots.

Starbucks spokesman Jim Olson confirms “the strawberry base for our Strawberries & Creme Frappuccino does contain cochineal extract, a common natural dye that is used in the food industry, and it helps us move away from artificial ingredients.”

Contributing: Gannett News Service

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