You may have heard the news yesterday that Starbucks will be removing caramel color and replacing it with actual pumpkin in their beloved Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Vani Hari, aka The Food Babe fought hard to get the Class 2B Carcinogen removed from the menu. While it seemed that Starbucks wasn’t going to give in to her demands, yesterday they announced they were caving. And with that Starbucks joins the ranks of Subway, Chipotle and Panera of restaurants caving in to the fears of the science illiterate.

Why should you care? While class 2B carcinogen sounds scary let’s examine what it really means. Class 2B means that a substance is possibly carcinogenic to humans. The World Health Organization lists Group 2B as: GROUP 2B: 272 agents appear on this list of agents probably carcinogenic to humans. There is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and evidence for animals, or insufficient evidence for human beings but sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals (possible carcinogens). While caramel color is in this category so is coffee, and I don’t see Starbucks eliminating coffee from their menu anytime soon. Sunlight is actually listed as a known carcinogen to humans. And while you should always wear sunscreen, no one is suggesting you barricade yourself in your house and board all the windows to avoid the sun. There are lots of things that are or may be carcinogenic the most important thing to remember is that the dose makes the poison.

So why remove it from the menu? The simple answer is money. While there is no logical, scientific basis for removing caramel color from its menu Starbucks is a corporation and ultimately cares most about the bottom line. When someone with a huge following makes a big stink about your company serving toxic chemicals some people get scared and search out their beloved lattes elsewhere. So now Starbucks along with Chipotle, Subway, and Panera Bread have all given in to a food terrorist and have helped facilitate the scientific illiteracy of our country. While I am not a scientist and I certainly don’t have all the answers I feel it is my responsibility to help you discern fact from fiction to best choose what’s right for you and your family.

The Food Babe has already glossed over Starbucks removing caramel coloring and has created a new list of demands. Her list includes demanding the removal of ‘Monsanto milk’ which doesn’t even exist, so mission accomplished? When corporations give in to the fear mongers and food terrorists of the world they get more demands and more scientific illiterate people. Yesterday was a sad day for the food industry and the scientific community.

One final note, I am not saying that caramel color should be a staple in anyone’s diet. However there is nothing wrong with having a little bit in your pumpkin spice latte. After all, Starbucks lattes are chock full of calories, fat, and sugar and void of any real nutrient value (save for the bit of protein in the milk). They should be viewed as a treat not a staple in your diet.


As always I’m here to help. Email me with any questions.


%d bloggers like this: