Starbucks caves to ‘Food Babe’ and changes Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe
Fall has become synonymous with pumpkin spice-flavored products, but one of the most popular, Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte, has also become the most controversial.
Last year, Vani Hari, the blogger otherwise known as "Food Babe," posted a takedown of the Pumpkin Spice Latte featuring a laundry list of problems with the drink, including its lack of real pumpkin, "toxic levels of sugar," and caramel coloring, which the accompanying infographic describes as a carcinogen. Food Babe is now celebrating a victory, according to a Washington Post article, as Starbucks has changed Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe so that it now includes pumpkin puree and a more "natural" ingredient lineup.
Food Babe and her arguments are, however, controversial to say the least. Critics have accused her of scaremongering and making unscientific claims about food additives, chemicals and perceived "toxins." Science bloggers have taken her to task on a slew of stances. One blogger at ScienceBlogs, for instance, has stated that she promotes pseudoscience and ignorance, and criticizes, among other things, a portion of her recently-released book in which she makes the sweepingly unscientific claim that "there is just no acceptable level of any chemical to ingest, ever."
Source: Source: foodbabe.com
But the public has spoken, and Starbucks has acquiesced to consumer demand. A People blog indicates that the new Pumpkin Spice Latte has not suffered in flavor since the change to the new recipe.
This is not the first instance of food manufacturers bowing to internet-fueled public opinion on the basis of perceived, but scientifically unconfirmed, health risks.
Earlier in August, Pepsi removed the artificial sweetener aspartame from Diet Pepsi after a longstanding sales slump for the beverage. In a CNN Money article, Pepsi North America CEO Al Carey is cited as saying that the number one complaint customers had about Diet Pepsi was the inclusion of aspartame.
"Aspartame is the sweetener that seems to get most of the negatives in the press and on YouTube," Mr. Carey said in the article.
The long-embattled additive has been said to pose no threat to human health by the federal government, but a study from the 1970s associating it with cancer in lab rats continues to foment public fears.
Pepsi replaced aspartame with the more popular artificial sweetener sucralose, also known as Splenda, in the U.S., but is not changing the recipe for Diet Pepsi in other countries.
- Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte now has pumpkin after shaming by the ‘Food Babe’ – Washington Post
- The Food Babe: "There is just no acceptable level of any chemical to ingest, ever" – ScienceBlogs
- Diet Pepsi replaces aspartame with … – CNN Money
- We Tasted Starbucks’ New Pumpkin Spice Latte … And Here’s What We Think – People
How responsive should food manufacturers and retailers be to calls for changes to ingredients, even if the concerns are dubious? Will Starbucks and Pepsi see positive press and increased sales based on the changes they have made?