Bug juice, anyone????

Strawberry is not my favorite flavor, being a chocolate girl myself.  However, should I want to buy, say a Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino from Starbucks, I certainly would assume that the pink coloring and the strawberry flavoring were from strawberries.  Now, I would hope that the berries were organic, but one can never be too sure about that.


I was horrified to read that Starbucks does not use natural coloring for their S & C Frapps.  They use beetle juice.  That’s right, beetle juice.   They use Cochineal extract and another ingredient called carmine (from the same insect) to color these drinks.


This substance is approved by the FDA for use in food and cosmetics.  Tropicana and Dole use it in their fruit-in-gel products and in their ruby-red grapefruit juice.  Jim Olson, Starbucks’ spokesman says, “The strawberry base does contain cochineal extract, a common natural dye that is used in the food industry, and it helps us move away from artificial ingredients.”  This colorant is also known as “natural Red #4” on the ingredient label.


What is interesting is that this additive can be used in products denoted as ‘vegetarian’.  This means that people who are very careful of their diets (vegans, kosher, halaal).  Now, I do not subscribe to any of those particular modes of diet, but I would like to know when I am ingesting an insect, or an insect product.


How many things are we ingesting that are of this ilk?   I certainly would like to know.


Until next time,



  • Samuel says:

    Marcel Dicke discusses the various aspects of insects, and how they play a role into our diet in his TEDTalk in June 2010 (link at the bottom of this post. He discusses the use of “natural food coloring” and also the FDA regulations regarding insect parts in processed foods such as peanut butter, chocolate, etc. He makes the argument that we should add insects to our diet as they have better nutritional qualities than our current protein source.


  • Starbucks de-bugs its frapps. Out today in USA Today

    That’s the latest score, as Starbucks has made an unusually rapid reversal in how it colors its Strawberry Frappuccinos — and some of its other foods and drinks.

    Just weeks after the world’s largest coffee chain took serious PR heat from vegan groups and public relations gurus for switching to commonly-used cochineal beetles to color its Strawberry Frappuccinos, the company’s U.S. president, Cliff Burrows, now says that bugs are coming out and tomato-based extract is coming in.

    I still wish that they would flavor their frapps with strawberries, but at least the tomato is a fruit.