Updated 4/19/12: Starbucks has announced that due to the controversy surrounding the use of cochineal extract, that they will use lycopene to color their Strawberry & Creme Frappuccino and Strawberry Banana Smoothie. Starbucks is also dropping cochineal extract in their Raspberry Swirl Cake, Birthday Cake Pop, Mini Donut with pink icing and Red Velvet Whoopie Pie.
Virtually every news outlet is reporting that Starbucks is using cochineal extract in their popular strawberry beverages. When I read this, my first thought was, how did people find out? Starbucks doesn’t post or provide any of their ingredients to consumers (only allergy information and the required nutritional information). Apparently, a vegan Starbucks barista notified the site, www.thisdishisvegetarian.com, that Starbucks had changed the formula of their Strawberries & Cream Frappucinos and Strawberry Smoothies to contain cochineal extract. The barista also included a few cell phone pics of the packages to show the ingredient lists.
So what’s all the fuss about cochineal extract? It’s made from…bugs. It’s used as an alternative to artificial dyes and can be found in many foods including yogurt, candy, applesauce, baked goods, and other red processed foods. Here is an excerpt from our Cochineal Extract Ingredient Report on exactly what this dye is and how it’s made:
Yesterday, we took an in-depth look at what Greek-style yogurt is, why it’s different than regular yogurt, and how to make it at home. In today’s post we’ll show you what to look for when buying Greek-style yogurt.
Not all Greek-style varieties are created equal. As always, you have to read the ingredient label. Traditionally, Greek yogurt is only made with 3 ingredients: milk, cream and live cultures, but many of today’s versions contain other “stuff.”
We’re starting with flavor because that might be the most important decision when buying yogurt. The best advice here is to look for plain Greek-style yogurt. It is often the flavored varieties that add additional calories, sweeteners, thickeners, and colors. If you need to sweeten it, add your own toppings such as fresh fruit, granola (try this homemade tropical granola recipe), 100% pure maple syrup, or raw honey.
Milk Protein Concentrate – This cheap ingredient is added to Greek-style yogurt to increase thickness and the raise the protein levels. The concerns with MPC is that it is “ultra processed,” almost always imported, and highly unregulated (not a good combination). There is no reason to add this ingredient in pure Greek-style yogurt.
If that soda can had a warning label which stated “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children,” would you give it to your child? This is the decision parents in the European Union (EU) now have. After numerous studies indicated that artificial food dyes caused behavioral and hyperactivity issues in children, the EU finally took action. On July 20, 2010 new food coloring legislation went into effect in the EU which requires special labeling of foods containing six colorants.
Here are the six offending dyes:
In the US, it is very difficult to avoid consuming synthetic food dyes. Virtually every type of brightly colored candy contains food coloring as does soda, sports drinks, cereals, packaged snacks and most medication designed for children. Food colorings in general, whether artificial or natural, have one thing in common: They are added to the food ONLY to make it look more appealing. Now, I try to avoid processed snacks and junk food as best I can, but throw a few Red Vines, gummy sour watermelons, or Peanut M&Ms in my line of sight and watch my willpower crumble.