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, , 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.