Not so pretty in pink

We are what we eat. That old saying keeps coming up the more we find out what’s in the food we consume.

The “pink slime” meat story is starting to die down now that the maker of the ammonia treated beef…er…. things has closed all but one of its plants.

But at this point, you have to figure there are a lot more pink slimes out there, unsightly and unsavory substances that we savor on a regular basis.

Today’s entry comes from Starbuck’s, which — CBS reveals — uses crushed-up bugs to make drinks pink. It sounds better on the ingredients label to say “cochineal extract.”

That has angered the vegetarian website, thisdishisvegetarian.com , not so much because the dye is actually crushed-up bugs, but because Starbuck’s claims the Frappuccino is a vegan product.

It turns out the little critters are often used instead of dye. The blog, Hudson Valley Geologist, provides a little insight:


To make the dye, the insects are manually collected from the cacti (very labor intensive), dropped in boiling water to kill them and then dried. After drying out, they are crushed into a powder and boiled with sodium carbonate (Na2CO3) or other chemicals (sodium carbonate is naturally occuring in some some alkaline “soda” lakes). It supposedly takes some 70,000 insects to yield one pound of dye.

  • Jim B.

    Having eaten dragonflies, grasshoppers and wasps during a visit to China I can’t say this bothers me. I can’t say though that I’ve ever thought about how bugs fit into a vegan diet.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Re Starbuck’s’ use of bugs: Never trust a company that makes up pretentious names for drink sizes.

  • http://ofbuckleyandbeatles.wordpress.com/ Drae

    Mmm-MMMM! Just think about all the bugs in our food they DON’T tell us about. Or all the little critters living out in the fields that get caught in the harvesting process. Extra protein… Good stuff.

  • John P.

    Bugs: Better than the alternative of synthetic “Coal Tar Sludge”. I suppose both are natural”.

    If a vegan accidentally swallows a bug, are they still a vegan?

  • Stephanie

    My perspective changed drastically on the food we eat when I was in industrial sales. One of my customers, a major beef producer used to order a “bone cannon seal”. A circular piece of food-grade nylon that was used in a machine to grind up soft bones and added to the back meat they sold. Not sure what grade of beef it was or who it was sold to, but ever since then I’ve tried to find out where my food comes from.

    Had never thought about my candy coffees though.Guess I will have to apply my blue rule to anything colored. The only thing that I will eat is Blue Berries, anything else is just not right.

  • Jim Shapiro

    John P – “If a vegan accidentally swallows a bug, are they still a vegan?”

    Vegans are dietary poseurs. If they were REALLY serious, they would wear a mask to avoid unintentional inhalation of flying critters, like the Jains.

  • Cara

    I read somewhere the FDA guidelines for things like flour (either in bags or used in other products) include x number of insect legs, x number of rat hairs, x number of rat feces. And cochineal extract is used *everywhere*.