Starbucks signaled the end of summer Tuesday, releasing its highly anticipated, seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte to thousands of eager fans.
But an investigation by influential FoodBabe.com blogger Vani Hari threatens to tamp down that excitement, criticizing the chain for not being forthcoming about the drink’s ingredients and warning that much of what is used to make the drink could be harmful to consumers’ health.
In her blog post, “You’ll Never Guess What’s In A Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte (Hint: You Won’t Be Happy),” she outlines the ingredients she says are cause for concern:
•Class IV caramel coloring. The Center for Science in the Public Interest wants caramel coloring banned, saying it is a carcinogen. .
•Cow’s milk. Many vegan customers were chagrined to find out the drink mix contains condensed milk. That means that, even if they ordered their latte with soy milk, the drink still contained animal byproducts.
•Pumpkin. There isn’t any actual pumpkin in the drink.
The report has been enough to disrupt the usually positive Twitter and Facebook feeds of fans celebrating the drink’s return.
“My heart just broke. I wish Starbucks would just use truly all natural ingredients,” wrote Twitter user @Amanda87Maria, whose affection for the drink had been thwarted.
Of course, the Pumpkin Spice backlash now has its own backlash. Some Twitter users are bashing the so-called Food Babe Army for raising such a stink.
“Yes there are chemicals in the PSL. There are chemicals in water too. Quit ruining it 4 us,” wrote Twitter user Twila Faith.
Starbucks said it’s hard to list ingredients for every drink because they can be customized in so many ways, but said it is working on listing core drink recipes on it’s website.
“If customers have questions about any of the items offered in our stores, they can ask their barista for a list of ingredients,” said Holly Hart Shafer, a Starbucks spokeswoman.
The bottom line, according to Consumerist reporter Mary Beth Quirk, is that customers shouldn’t take anything for granted, pointing out that Starbucks never claimed the drink was vegan or organic.
“I’d say if the chain isn’t bragging, ‘This is vegan! this is HMO-free!’, then you shouldn’t just assume so,” Quirk said.