Starbucks Customers Petition for Bug-Free Drinks

In the new age of food ingredient awareness, hundreds sign petition, asking Starbucks to stop coloring drinks with an extract made from insects.

At a time when customers are growing increasingly aware and concerned about what’s in their food and beverages, Starbucks is coming under fire for using an extract made from crushed insects to color its strawberry drinks.

South Carolina resident Daelyn Fortney launched a campaign on to call on Starbucks to stop this practice, following the allegations that Starbucks replaced ingredients in its strawberry flavoring to include cochineal extract, a product made from crushed insects. And the campaign is starting to get attention.

“It takes 70,000 cochineal insects to produce one pound of the red dye in Starbucks’ strawberry flavoring,” said Fortney. “It’s great that Starbucks is committed to reducing their use of artificial ingredients, but what would be even more admirable is if Starbucks considered other natural, plant-based additives such as beet, purple sweet potato, black carrot and paprika.”

Within days of launching her campaign, Fortney had recruited hundreds of supporters on She plans to raise awareness on Facebook, Twitter and via a Website she co-founded called This Dish Is Veg.

A Starbucks spokesperson replied to her Website on March 16, CBS News reported. “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,” the spokesperson said. “While the strawberry base isn’t a vegan product, it helps us move away from artificial dyes.”

Daelyn noted she’ll continue to campaign until Starbucks uses an alternative, such as beet extract, which she believes will increase the company’s appeal to vegetarian, vegan, and kosher diets, as well as those who are allergic to cochineal. Her campaign on has been covered by CBS News, ABC News, The Boston Globe, International Business Times, among other outlets.

The Daily Mail reported that the World Health Organization warns consuming cochineal extract has been tied to asthma for some people.

Consumers are continuing to grow more savvy about what is in the foods they eat—an important fact for all foodservice providers to keep in mind. Most recently in the news, customers were concerned with another common additive found in food:  ammonia-treated lean beef tips, also known as “pink slime.” Following an outcry from the public, several grocery chains and school districts to stopped carrying products that included the ingredient.



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