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It was recently discovered that the Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino as well as the Strawberry Smoothies at Starbucks contain cochineal extract. So what is cochineal extract? Well, simply stated… bugs. Cochineal extract is a red dye made out of dried female cochineal insects. Reports indicate it takes 70,000 cochineal to produce 1 pound of the red dye. Known to cause a rare, but severe allergic reactions in some individuals, the FDA requires manufacturers to list the “cochineal” in the ingredient’s list. Once promoted as vegan-friendly drinks (when made with soy milk), the strawberry beverages at Starbucks are no longer an option to those following a plant-based diet. Additionally, the drinks are not safe for those following a kosher diet. In response to a recent article on This Dish is Veg that warned readers of the cochineal extract, Starbucks provided the following statement: “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.” While it’s commendable to move away from artificial ingredients, there are other natural means to achieve the red coloring. Red beet, black carrot, purple sweet potato and paprika are all-natural alternatives to artificial dyes and safe for those with dietary restrictions. (And those who don’t want crushed bugs in their designer drink.) Please let Starbucks know, you don’t want bugs in your drink!