More than 6,500 people have informed Starbucks coffee that they “don’t want crushed bugs in their designer drinks.”
According to Bloomberg, an online petition was started when it was learned that Starbucks was using an ingredient made of dried insects to color some of its Frappuccinos and pastries.
A red dye made from cochineal insects, found in Mexico and South America, was found in the company’s Strawberries & Creme Frappuccino, Strawberry Banana Smoothie, Birthday Cake Pop, Mini Donut with pink icing, and Red Velvet Whoopee Pie.
Starbucks’ problems started when a vegan who works as a Starbucks barista in the Midwest informed website thisdishisvegetarian.com that the company's strawberry drinks were not vegan. According to the site, PETA says it may take as many as 70,000 cochineal insects to produce a pound of the red dye.
Starbucks president Cliff Burrows said in a statement that the company fell short of customers’ expectations. He said the extract posed no health risk, but Starbucks will review natural alternative ingredients, according to the vegan site.
"As our customers you expect and deserve better — and we promise to do better," Burrows said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Cochineal dye is considered safe by the FDA, and is widely used in a number of food products. But according to ABC News, the World Health Organization has found that the dye causes asthma in some people and an allergic reaction in others.