Now a new statement from the president of Starbucks U.S., Cliff Burrows, said that the crushed bug extract was also used in food items sold at the coffee chain.
We use the extract in the strawberry base for our Strawberries and Crème Frappuccino, Strawberry Smoothies and three food items - the Birthday Cake Pop, Mini Donut with pink icing, and Red Velvet Whoopie Pie, said Burrows in a statement released Thursday.
Vegan/vegetarian news site thisdishisvegetarian.com brought the issue to light when a Seattle based barista told the site about the changes in Starbucks' flavored strawberry sauce.
The strawberry sauce we use contains 'cochineal extract,' she wrote. My guess would be that the recipe changed about three or four weeks ago, when our strawberry sauce got new packaging.
She said she wanted to alert vegans to the news that the formerly vegan frappuccino was no longer as such.
Starbucks made the switch to cochineal extract because the company wanted to cut down on the amount of artificial ingredients in their food products.
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, said the Starbucks spokesperson.
Following the news, the company has received some backlash from fans of the product. Since then, Burrows said they are reviewing other ingredients.
As a company, we always strive to exceed your expectations, and we take your feedback very seriously. Based on recent feedback, we learned that we fell short of these expectations by using cochineal extract, he wrote.
Burrows defended the use of the extract, saying this commonly used ingredient is a natural, FDA-approved colorant found in a wide variety of food and beverage products in the U.S.
The FDA considers cochineal extract is a safe dye to use in food and cosmetics, though a 2009 ruling said companies had to print the ingredient on their labels.
Yet due to such negative feedback, the company is looking for other ingredients to use.
While it is a safe product that poses no health risk, we are reviewing alternative natural ingredients, he said in his statement.
Might we suggest strawberries?