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Starbucks Beetle Dye Class Action Lawsuit

By Sarah Pierce


Starbucks beetle frappuccinoA class action lawsuit filed in California Supreme Court is making a pretty gross allegation against Starbucks, claiming the company dyed its food and drinks with red bug carcasses. Starbucks’ strawberries & crème frappuccino, strawberry banana smoothie, raspberry swirl cake, birthday cake pop, mini donut with pink icing and velvet pie are all alleged to be made with the red beetle dye.
Would you like a Tall, Grande or Venti Beetle Frappaccino?
According to the class action lawsuit, Starbucks sold food and drinks dyed red with an extract from crushed beetle carcasses, without disclosing it to customers, as required under law.

The Starbucks beetle lawsuit is alleging unfair competition, false advertising, unjust enrichment, fraud and violation of California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act for hiding the fact that its products contained cochineal extract, which is used in many food products.

The class action lawsuit further alleges that Starbucks “bragged” about not using beets to color its products, but never mentioned that it was using bugs.

 “Unbeknownst to Plaintiff and Class Members, Starbucks has been selling various red-colored food and beverage products with the added ingredient cochineal extract,” the class action lawsuit states. “Cochineal extract is an extract derived from the crushed carcasses of red-colored beetles…. The extract was used by Starbucks to provide a red-color dye to the food and beverage products that were sold to unwary consumers, including Plaintiff and Class Members.”

Roughly 70,000 beetles make 1 lb. of the bug dye, according to the complaint.

Some people are allergic to cochineal, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires that companies declare the ingredient on labels.

“The fact that crushed beetle carcasses were used in the production of these food items was not posted in the stores, not disclosed on the product containers or receipts, not announced by the staff, nor identified online,” the class action lawsuit states.

News that Starbucks used cochineal sparked a “media frenzy” and Starbucks promised the public that it would stop using the bug dye, but that’s not enough, the Plaintiff says.

The Starbucks beetle class action lawsuit is seeking a formal apology and punitive damages for a proposed class of consumers who unknowingly ingested the beetl-dyed food and drinks. 



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Updated May 31st, 2012


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  • Anonymous June 8, 2012

    What do you think goes in strawberry yogurt?

  • Anonymous June 18, 2012

    Did they color their Passion Tea (non-caffeine) with the pink Beatles?

  • kim glassford December 4, 2013

    I would drink strawberry fraps or passion fruit teas all the time. Soo gross!!!

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