Starbucks Pumpkin lattes have been selling like hotcakes. In fact, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz recently said that pumpkin lattes ‘still rank as its most popular seasonal beverage.” Starbucks’ Chief Financial Officer Troy Alstead confided,”We are continually, frankly, even amazed internally at its ability to keep driving its proposition, comping over itself every year.”
In fact, Starbucks has sold more than 200 million pumpkin lattes to date. But are the lattes made with high quality ingredients? Are they even remotely healthy? Unfortunately, you need to be a food detective to figure out the answer to those questions. The coffee kingpin refuses to post its drinks’ ingredients list online; they only post their food ingredients.
Let’s take a moment to look under the hood and examine the actual ingredients that go into Starbuck’s bestselling, cult favorite, Pumpkin Spice Latte.
From the Starbucks website: “Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is back– with all the amazing ingredients that make it a beloved fall favorite.”
Deconstructing the “Amazing Ingredients” in Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte
1. Their coffee (expresso brewed coffee and water) is not organic.
Regular consumption of conventional coffee can significantly increase ones toxic load via pesticides. According to the CS Monitor, conventional farmers apply up to 250 pounds of chemical fertilizers per acre! Pesticides have been linked to a slew of health problems, including prostate and other types of cancers, Parkinson’s disease, and miscarriages in pregnant women.
2. Use of Caramel Color Level IV
A double dose of ammonia based Caramel Color Level IV, the most harmful type of color additive, is used in the ‘beloved’ Pumpkin Spice latte. In vivo studies indicate that this color additive increases cancer risk in mice.
The toxicologist Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D states, “There is no ‘safe’ level of 4-MeI, [the toxic by-product of Caramel Color IV] but if you have set a threshold, it should be well below the Prop 65 level (29 micrograms/day) – and more like 3 micrograms/day.”
What’s more, it’s almost impossible to determine a ‘safe’ dose since caramel color is commonly found in many processed foods.
3. No Real Pumpkin. Zilch.
There are no real pumpkins used in this recipe. That’s it.
4. Starbucks Uses GMO-Milk from Factory Farmed Cows
Starbucks milk is from cows raised in factory farms, also known as CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations). These poor cows are fed massive amounts of antibiotics throughout their lives while also being injected with growth hormones. The cows are also fed genetically modified feed such as corn, soy, alfalfa, and cottonseed, which is leading consumers to push Starbucks to stop sourcing their milk from cows fed GMO feeds. The effort also demands the coffee giant use a third-party verifier to confirm their milk comes from GMO-free cows. In fact, Starbucks is a major supporter of Big Dairy.
The non-dairy, soy milk option isn’t great either. It’s laced with carrageenan, a popular stabilizer that poses a cancer risk and can cause inflammation of the intestines. Over 100 scientific studies confirm the dangers of soy even if it’s organic. Only small amounts of non-GMO, fermented soy are healthy.
5. Sugar Galore
For example, the ‘grande’ latte has a whopping 50 grams of sugar. Sugar is quickly becoming a known health destroyer and cancer-fueling substance.
6. Natural flavors
The term ‘natural flavors’ is vague and misleading. It can mean quite a few things.
The FDA defines “natural flavors” or “natural flavoring” as any substance that is extracted, distilled or otherwise derived [directly or indirectly] from plant or animal matter. So basically anything goes!
“Natural” can also mean they used a secretion from a Beaver’s anal gland to create a flavor…!
7. Artificial flavors
Artificial flavors are yet another dubious ‘skies-the-limit’ term that can include substances made from petroleum, rocks, or just about anything that a food chemist can whip up in a lab.
8. Preservatives and Sulfites
9. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
Also, the pumpkin syrup that Starbucks uses to create their Pumpkin spice latte contains high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
Note: Regarding any controversy over HFCS in the pumpkin syrup, a Starbuck’s representative told the Food Babe that “all of the syrups sold in their online store are the same ones that are used in the restaurant, and that specifically the Pumpkin Sauce is the same.”
Bottom line: If you must have a Pumpkin Spice Latte, consider making your own healthy homemade version.