Starbucks Wins Praise for Dumping Dye Made From Bugs

Starbucks' bid to make itself the moral leader of the business universe yesterday got a boost from PETA, which dubbed the coffee empire a "corporation with a conscience." Nope, the accolade wasn't referring to any of CEO Howard Schultz' grand pronouncements on corrupt politics or corporate responsibility. All Starbucks had to do for this pat on the back was stop using ground up bugs in its strawberry Frapps.

To recap, last month a flap arose when it was discovered that Starbucks was dying its strawberry Frappuccinos with cochineal extract, which oddly enough is made from South American beetles. The company, apparently, thought it was getting in tune with the eco-friendly crowd by, as a spokesperson explained, moving away from "artificial" dyes toward a "natural" one.

But that didn't pass muster with the vegan and animal rights crowds. PETA spokesperson David Perle says the group "reached out" to Starbucks to discuss.

Starbucks was suitably contrite. "We've learned that we fell short of your expectations," wrote Cliff Burrows, president of Starbucks USA, on a company blog yesterday. Promising to "do better," he announced that the company was ditching bug dye in favor of lycopene, which he described as a "tomato-based extract" that is also of course "natural."

The new dye will be used not only in frappes, but an array of pinkish Starbucks goods that it turns out also contain cochineal extract, including donuts, cakes and pies. Burrows promised the transition will occur by the end of June.

PETA says it will soon celebrate the victory with strawberry frappes all around. And who knows? Maybe we'll soon start seeing new "I'd rather go naked than wear fur" ads with lithesome bare models sipping Starbucks' drinks. Hey, if Schultz can get a Harlem preacher to sing the company's praises, one did at the last annual meeting, why not PETA?

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