Friday, May 4, 2012

Ewww. There's what in that?

Two real blog posts in one week? What the fuck? Am I okay?

Maybe. I’ll have to wait and see how the rest of this month goes and get back to you on that one.

So, what’s new in my life? I’m limiting the amount of pink and red foods that I consume.

Starbucks has been in the news for using the Cochineal bug as a food dye. Click here to see a snopes article about it, Red Red Whine.

Use of this ingredient pissed off a lot of vegetarians and vegan groups who protested the use of a bug as an "all-natural" food coloring when there are vegetarian-friendly alternatives, like beet juice, available.

(Would you like bugs or beet juice with that drink)?

I started with a boycott against all foods using this ingredient, but quickly broke it when I realized just how many foods use the Cochineal bug as a food dye so then, I developed rules like this one: drinking a homemade caramel appletini without worrying about the use of the bug in any of the ingredients was okay because the alcohol totally killed any ick that remained.

I am avoiding Cochineal as much as I can, but I'm sure it'll slip in somewhere when I'm not paying attention.

End of Tangent.

The story was leaked by a vegetarian employee of Starbucks - a company that has been trying to lure the vegan and vegetarian market through their doors by offering vegetarian options like soy milk. The original recipe for the Strawberry Frapp was vegetarian friendly, but the company decided to change it without alerting anyone.

When the fuck were they planning to announce this ingredient change to consumers? Or did they hope they could just slip it under the door?

It's not the eating of the bugs bit that pisses me off so much (it does bother me - according to PETA, about 70,000 bugs die to make 1 pound of dye. I don't know how many beets it would take to make a pound of dye, but I'm guessing the process wouldn't need 70,000 plants).

This is another example of the very lax labeling laws for food products in America (and how the FDA probably doesn't have our backs as much as it would like us to think it does).

Companies are allowed to call Cochineal by many names on the label, and they aren't required to tell you what all the names really mean - not until someone, like the vegetarian Starbucks employee, leaks the info to the general public. The Cochineal bug might be listed as Carmine (click the link to see other names that Carmine appears under) or Carminic Acid.

See what I mean about the name-game?

I have the same issue with products that are smoked (think smoked cheeses - and yes, I know that the carnivores are probably thinking about smoked hams instead).

Companies aren't required to list what woods are used during the smoking process either. A few companies do list it on packaging, but only when it's convenient - in other words, they list it because words like "Hickory Smoked" are considered "appealing" and "appetizing."

Unless you're me. Unless you're allergic to hickory in all forms, even smoke.

This isn't a new complaint. I'm not alone in voicing it. I just don't see any clear solution to the problem. Read labels. Buy locally grown foods. Buy vegan and animal-friendly products (oh, by the way, that lipstick you're using . . . if it's not vegan-friendly, it's probably got bugs in it too).