That’s beetles as in ground up cochineal beetles — mostly found in Mexico and South America.
Gross as that may sound, it’s a common, government-approved food coloring used widely throughout the food industry. It’s in everything from some Yoplait yogurts to three Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts flavors.
A vegan website, ThisDishIsVeg.com, this month warned its readers that Strawberry Frappuccino was no longer vegan and now is using the beetles for coloring. Starbucks made the switch in January when it aggressively moved away from artificial ingredients.
For Starbucks, which is eager to get artificial ingredients out of its food and drinks, it’s an unexpected PR problem. Never mind that Frappuccinos, in total, represent a $2 billion global business for Starbucks. “This is the quintessential modern-day PR crisis,” says PR expert Katie Delahaye Paine. “You try to be good and green, and someone is going to get you for it.”
Check out more products that are colored with these bugs!