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Are You Bugging Out Over What's Been Found In Starbucks Strawberry Frappuccinos?

By Danielle Sullivan |

cochineal bugs, insects starbucks frappuccino, starbucks bugs in frappuccinos, food dye bugs, ground up insects starbucks

The cochineal insects produce these whitish secretions to protect themselves as they suck the juice out of plants, but not enough to keep them from becoming Starbucks drinks, apparently.

What’s your favorite beverage at Starbucks? If it’s a strawberry frappuccino, you might be getting more than you bargained for, namely ground up insects.

The famous chain has come clean after concerned vegan customers repeatedly inquired to see if their favorite drink contained any animal byproducts. Eventually, Starbucks admitted that the drink contains the widely used food coloring made of cochineal extract which is made by grinding up the dried bodies of cochineal insects. These bugs are primarily found in Mexico and South America.

Here is part of Starbucks’ official statement:

At Starbucks, we strive to carry products that meet a variety of dietary lifestyles and needs. We also 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.

Now keep in mind that these particular concoction of ground up bugs has been used as food coloring for centuries and the use of these insects as food product has been approved by the FDA (although FDA approval does little to provide enough reassurance for me given their track record).  But, as ABC News reports, the cochineal extract has been linked to allergies and even asthma in certain people.

I commend Starbucks for being truthful, but I admit it grosses me out and I would not buy one of these drinks for me or my kids. I know there could be worse things and definitely are worse things in our food supply system. If I had to choose between this pink hue and pink slime, I’m willing to bet I’d go for the pink hue.

And remember, what bugs one person, doesn’t necessarily bug another.

Do you buy strawberry frappucinos? Will you still buy them given there are crushed insects in them? Or does this not bother you at all?

Image: Wiki

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About Danielle Sullivan


Danielle Sullivan

Danielle Sullivan writes for Babble Pets. She is also an award-winning parenting writer, who authors a monthly column for NY Parenting and ASPCA Parents blog. You can read more of her work at her blog,Some Puppy To Love. Read bio and latest posts → Read Danielle's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “Are You Bugging Out Over What's Been Found In Starbucks Strawberry Frappuccinos?

  1. Angela says:

    Well, I’m not a frapp lover and I refuse to buy my kiddo a four dollar beverage…ever but I will admit I would rather the nature provided dye than the artificial version…

  2. KateThree says:

    I believe they use the same bugs to dye many yogurts also. I’m mostly vegetarian, and the bugs as dye don’t bother me.

  3. bob says:

    I’m all for clear labeling and I’ll grant the vegans and the very few with allergies to this compound have a legitimate gripe.
    But the ew-bugs coverage of this story is simply base, unprincipled, fear-exploiting tabloid journalism.
    Don’t think so? Then try explaining how this ingredient is essentially different from gelatin, except that it comes from unholy invertebrates.

  4. bwsf says:

    There are a LOT of foods with this dye in it. And at least it comes from nature. I’m sure there’s far worse things in our food we don’t even know about.

  5. Dawn Rose says:

    We all eat bugs. Period. Anyone who thinks that bugs don’t get into our foods is naive. Intentionally using bugs isn’t any worse.

  6. goddess says:

    Better than HFCS and MSG ;-)

  7. Meagan says:

    I don’t much like strawberry, but I don’t see the problem aside from, as Bob said, people with allergies and vegans. We eat much grosser things than bugs.

  8. emdane says:

    Why do they need to put any dye in it? It would be just as tasty without the coloring and they wouldn’t have to worry about vegan vs. artificial dyes.

  9. Diera says:

    Anyone who eats, eats bugs.

  10. lam says:

    Um, why don’t they just use actual strawberries? They’re red all by themselves.

  11. LogicalMama says:

    Or beet juice?!

  12. Meagan says:

    I suspect they use bug dye rather than beet juice because it keeps better, or maybe the color just looked more natural than the purplish hue you get from beets (ah irony). As for why they need a dye at all, they dont, but they use it for the same reason food makers have been using them for decades: better sales.

  13. KAELYN MANGOLD says:


  14. bob says:

    Kaelyn Mangold is scared of bugs.

  15. lam says:

    We love bugs, but the children stubbornly refuse to eat them on the grounds that they count as meat.

  16. Karen says:

    I thought not eating meat had to do with either 1) health reasons or 2) animal cruelty. I don’t think this food coloring is either unhealthy, unnatural or hurts the insects in any way (are they ground up after being dead or while alive? I guess that matters.). As for it being linked to asthma in some people; any product can cause reactions in certain people. This substance should have been on a complete list of ingredients. If it wasn’t than Starbucks is in the wrong but I think this is blown out of proportion a little bit.

  17. umyeahduh says:

    If you have ever eaten a red food that was a dyed food you have ingested cochineal dye. guaranteed. end of story. sorry folks. look it up.

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