A while back, the internet was a buzz after learning that the red color of the infamous Starbucks frapp is from crushed bugs and not fruit. The dyes used in their strawberry drinks used to contain cochineal, a coloring agent made from crushed, ground up tiny beetles primarily found in South America and Mexico. The company released a statement saying, “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.”
You don’t say. Heaven forbid they use actual real strawberries to make a “strawberry” drink. I know, it’s such a radical, tree hugging idea to use the real red ingredient that’s listed as being sold.
After the fallout from the revelation that people had been sipping on crushed bugs this whole time, the company released a statement saying, “Our expectation is to be fully transitioned to lycopene, a natural, tomato-based extract, in the strawberry sauce (base) used in our Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino® blended beverage and Strawberry Banana Smoothie. […] Our intention is to be fully transitioned from existing product inventories to revised food and beverage offerings near the end of June  across the U.S.”
WHAT IS COCHINEAL?
Cochineal has been used since the 15th century as a coloring agent. However, one would think that as our technology advanced so has our coloring skills. But here is the kicker, after all that lead in lipstick hoopla, it’s even more uncommonly known that that cochineal is frequently used in cosmetics, more specifically red based cosmetics, like your lipsticks. In the packaging, this red base is listed as “Carmine,” “Natural Red 4,” or “Crimson Lake.” Yes ladies, there are crushed bugs in lipstick.
IS COCHINEAL DANGEROUS?
Many people are allergic to these bugs and the dye is known to cause severe allergic reactions and asthma. However, cochineal is considered safe by the FDA, and is used to color jellies, alcoholic drinks, meat, cookies, cheddar cheese and other desserts including red velvet cake (we know! the hurt!) plus many other food products that we eat daily. Honestly, we kinda don’t think it’s such a big problem to color cosmetics and other foods with cochineal but it could pose a problem for some of us, understandably.
WHAT ARE THE BEST VEGAN, BUG FREE LIPSTICK BRANDS?
Luckily, there are options if you don’t want to deal with crushed bugs in lipstick. Here is a list of “Carmine,” “Natural Red 4,” “Crimson Lake,” and vegan lipstick brands to try so you can stop bugging out, Lydia.
Alba Botanica (primarily lipglosses)
Emani Vegan Cosmetics
Just Pure Minerals
Kat Von D
Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics