Starbucks have been all over the news again recently, but this time, I’m happy to report, for a much more positive reason.
In an earlier blog, I highlighted the news story that Starbucks had come under fire from vegans who were angry about the use of cochineal to add color to their infamous strawberry flavored Frappuccino and Smoothie drinks.
The issue was first highlighted over at the ‘This Dish Is Vegetarian’ news site after a Starbucks barrista told them that strawberry syrup, used to enhance the color of the drinks, contained cochineal. It turns out that four of their food products – Red Velvet Whoopie Pie, Raspberry Swirl Cake, Birthday Cake Pop and the Mini Donut with pink icing also contained cochineal dye.
Following the tip-off from the people at This Dish Is Vegetarian, over 6500 dissatisfied customers signed a Change.org petition urging Starbucks to stop the use of this cruel ingredient – thousands of insects are killed to make just a small amount of dye – and it seems that the company has taken their customers complaints seriously.
In a recent company blog entry, Starbucks president, Cliff Burrows, wrote:
After a thorough, yet fastidious, evaluation, I am pleased to report that we are reformulating the affected products to assure the highest quality possible. Our expectation is to be fully transitioned to lycopene, a natural, tomato-based extract…”
He also acknowledged:
As our customers you expect and deserve better – and we promise to do better”.
And he’s right. Many vegans believed that the soy milk versions of the Frappuccino and Smoothie were 100% vegan and were horrified to find out that they’d consumed cochineal inadvertently.
But with that said, this is great news, a real success story, and it just goes to show that by voicing opinions and raising awareness, vegetarians and vegans can prompt change.
Along with many others, I’m happy to hear that Starbucks aim to phase out the use of cochineal in their products in US stores by the end of June of this year. So a big thank you to Starbucks for listening and a huge well done to all the vocal vegans and vegetarians who helped to push this change forward.