Well Starbucks, Which Is It—Carmine Or Bug Juice?
Posted by: Melanie Chapman
Published on: May 6th, 2012 at 6:00 AM
If you frequent your local Starbucks—and enjoy strawberry-flavored beverages—then you’ll be relieved to know that they have recently agreed to remove carmine from their strawberry flavoring. Oh, and in case you—like numerous others—are unaware of the more colloquial term for carmine, it’s nothing more than crushed-beetle food coloring.
Yep, Starbucks really thought the general public would be okay with that small change.
Unsurprisingly, the announcement that they would be switching to the beetle-based food dye back in January didn’t go over too well. Only four months later, Starbucks has begun to return to more appetizing forms of food coloring. According to Natural News, their latest strawberry flavoring is colored by lycopene—a natural pigment found in tomatoes, watermelon and grapefruit.
Okay, so cool. It’s over and done with, and if you’ve unintentionally consumed a few beetles in the process, then you should probably just write it off as a uniquely adventurous moment in your life.
But do you really think that Starbucks is the first company to make this sort of a switch? I mean, if it weren’t for their popularity, it’s likely that the January announcement would have gone largely unnoticed. And were it not faced with waves of criticism, Starbucks would never have dropped the unappealing additive.
So how many companies disguise ingredients like “beetle juice” under unassuming titles such as “carmine”? Well, under FDA labeling requirements, companies only need to include the technical names for their ingredients. And, of course, technical names do not imply bug-related origins. Therefore, unless you google every unpronounceable word on the label of every food you eat, there’s really no saying how many unappetizing ingredients you’ve ingested over the course of your life.
In the future—if you’re not into consuming beetles—look out for code-name “carmine” in red-colored foods. But of course, this isn’t the only deceivingly titled ingredient. Watch out for “cochineal extract” too, and do your homework when other labeled ingredients aren’t immediately recognizable.
Does it gross you out that companies aren’t required to mention that their ingredients may contain insects, or would you just rather not know? In the future, will you be more vigilant about what you consume?