And what does this have to do with pink slime?
In one of the quickest turnarounds we’ve seen in the food industry, Starbucks has just announced that it will be removing the red bug coloring from its Strawberry Frappucino and other red foods. A few weeks ago, a vegan Starbucks barista shared his discovery of carmine with vegetarian blogs, and the news went viral. Heck, even our post about it (with a close up picture of the red bugs) went viral.
According to a the company “Starbucks will reformulate the following products to replace the cochineal extract with lycopene, a natural, tomato-based extract:
- Beverages: Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino® blended beverage and Strawberry Banana Smoothie
- Pastries: Raspberry Swirl Cake, Birthday Cake Pop, Mini Donut with pink icing, and Red Velvet Whoopie Pie
Here is a letter to consumers from Starbucks President Cliff Burrows:
As I first shared on March 29, we’ve learned that we fell short of your expectations by using natural cochineal extract as a colorant in four food and two beverage offerings in the United States. Our commitment to you, our customers, is to serve the highest quality products available. As our customers you expect and deserve better – and we promise to do better.
After a thorough, yet fastidious, evaluation, I am pleased to report that we are reformulating the affected products to assure the highest quality possible. 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. Likewise, we are transitioning away from the use of cochineal extract in our food offerings which currently contain it (Raspberry Swirl Cake, Birthday Cake Pop, Mini Donut with pink icing, and Red Velvet Whoopie Pie).
This transition will occur over time as we finalize revisions and manage production. 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.
We thank you for your continued feedback, support and comments, and we encourage you to continue to share your thoughts here as well.
A few thoughts on how Starbuck handled this:
1. Transparency trumps all. Starbucks had nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of. It was open with its customers about the coloring from day one.
2. Quick response. When it realized its customers did not want the bug derived coloring, Starbucks quickly turned around and offered something else.
3. Luxury affords flexibility. When you sell coffee for five bucks, your margins enable you to turn on a dime.
Do you think the pink slime scandal would have turned out differently had the manufacturer (BPI) been more forthcoming with its disclosures?