Starbucks Or Starbugs? Petition Urges Coffee Giant To Stop Using Insects As Coloring

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Is it Starbucks or starbugs?

An online petition is being circulated urging the coffee giant to stop using a red dye — said to be made from dried, female cochineal insects — in its strawberries & crème frappuccino as well as it strawberry smoothies.

CBS News reported
the alleged use of creepy crawlies in Starbucks drinks came to light via the website

A barista, who works at a Starbucks location, wrote the the website saying the aforementioned drinks are not vegan and that the “strawberry sauce we use contains ‘cochineal extract.'”

A cochineal is a “primarily sessile parasite native to tropical and subtropical South America and Mexico,” according to Wikipedia.

The online petition, posted at, cites reports that indicate “it takes 80,000 cochineal to produce 1 pound of the red dye.” Furthermore, the petition says that the die is known to cause “severe allergic reactions” in some people.

Starbucks has replied to the controversy, saying it strives to “carry products that meet a variety of dietary lifestyles and needs,” adding it also has “the goal to minimize artificial ingredients” in its products.”

“While the strawberry base isn’t a vegan product, it helps us move away from artificial dyes,” the statement concluded.

The petition, which as of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday had 481 signatures, suggested there were other ways to achieve the red coloring without using the bugs, including red beet, black carrot, purple sweet potato and paprika.

What do you think about the controversy?  Did you sign the petition?  Share your thoughts in the comments section…

  • D Lane

    I would much rather have beetle juice dye in my coffee than chemical dyes. Right on, Starbucks!!!

  • mack1966

    Easy solution, don’t eat or drink at Starbucks,this start a petition to change the way private business does thing’s is absurd..Damn lib’s.

  • Nick

    Learn some spelling and grammar, you idiots. You call this journalism?

  • dalcer1

    I don’t buy at SB’s .. because the caffeine makes my heart pound .. however, IF I did … it wouldn’t make a difference whether I was a Vegan or not .. I DON’T WANT BUGS (IN ANY FORM!) IN MY FOOD!!! Starbuck’s .. whoever made that decision for you should have to eat bugs daily!! HOW DISGUSTING!!!

  • judyg

    we don’t want red bugs or pink slime. thanks for listening, food and drink guys. i have to rest now.

  • judyg

    what do you think is in that strawberry or raspberry yogurt, ice cream, indeed anything “red” ?
    let’s be perfectly clear (pun) we don’t want red bugs or pink slime or the other disgusting and strange ingredients covered in “natural flavors” on the labels of our food or our drinks unless we can spray them with raid before we imbibe.

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