You’ll Never Guess What’s In A Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte (Hint: You Won’t Be Happy)

I really love the smell of pumpkin (especially in the Fall), but, there is at least one seasonal pumpkin treat that I will never order and that’s the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. With more than 200 million sold to date, these drinks sell like hotcakes this time of year, and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said it “still ranks as its most popular seasonal beverage”. But, does anyone know what’s really in it?

I found out, and I’m going to break it all down for you here.  


But first, I want to mention that I get riled up when restaurants refuse to disclose their ingredients, because we have the right to know what we are eating and drinking. I’ve tried for years to get ingredient information from Starbucks and it’s been a bit frustrating to say the least. If you’ve ever tried emailing their customer service for ingredients you probably know what I’m talking about.

This week, we emailed them asking for the complete list of ingredients in the Pumpkin Spice Latte and this was their response:

“The Pumpkin Spice Latte is of pumpkin and traditional fall spice flavors combined with espresso and steamed milk, topped with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice. If you ever have any questions or concerns in the future, please don’t hesitate to get in touch”.

After several more emails back and forth, they were still refusing to share the ingredients:

While we understand that some customers would like to know the nutrition information for their specific customized beverage, unfortunately we are unable to provide this level of detail for every beverage customization request. The beverage information that is available on reflects the beverage offerings currently on our menu with the most common customization options.

For a company that prides itself in its transparency, it’s unbelievable to me that this is how they respond to customers who ask for information about what’s in their drinks. After really putting the pressure on, I was finally able to get the complete list, but it wasn’t easy. While they list some ingredients on their website, they still do not list the ingredients in their most popular items: their drinks! This includes all of their lattes, frappuccinos, macchiatos, smoothies, etc. Starbucks doesn’t even publish the ingredients in their “Kid’s Drinks” – keeping parents completely in the dark. If you have a food allergy, their allergen information isn’t available online either.

How’s that for transparency?

Besides trying to get an employee to spill the beans, pretty much the only way to get the ingredients in their drinks is to go into their online store and search for each of the individual components that make up these drinks, but they are not all listed here. Quite frankly, this is a pain. This also requires you to know all of the components that make up the drink that you order. For instance, the Pumpkin Spice Latte isn’t just espresso, syrup and milk. If you order it the usual way on the menu, it contains espresso, pumpkin sauce, steamed milk (or soy milk), whipped cream and spice topping – and these each come with their own ingredient list.  

Another way to get ingredients is to email and call customer service, or to ask a corporate contact at Starbucks (if you’re lucky enough to know one like me). We used all of these avenues to get the ingredients in this drink, and you know what?  

We got different ingredients. 

Overall, the ingredients were similar, but there were slight differences. We initially called Starbucks customer service and they said 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. The online version  here says Pumpkin Sauce contains high fructose corn syrup. They also divulged the ingredients in the whipped cream, spice topping, and soy milk.  

Shortly thereafter, we also received a response to our email inquiry and this is when things became shady.

This time the ingredient list they sent over didn’t have any high fructose corn syrup on it. Rather, it was replaced with “sweetened condensed nonfat milk”.  After a couple email exchanges, they seemed to confirm that HFCS is an ingredient:

“Yes the sauce that we sell online at is that same sauce that we use in our stores. I understand you concerns about high fructose corn syrup being used in the Sweentened Condensed Nonfat Milk. Please be aware that product information is provided to us by the suppliers who manufacture food and beverage items for Starbucks Coffee Company. Variations may exist due to periodic changes in formulations. While we attempt to provide product information that is as complete as possible, product changes or new product introductions may cause this information to become outdated or incomplete. Products may vary from location to location”.

I wasn’t done yet. I also contacted a PR rep at Starbucks whom I had been in contact with previously and asked her to send me the ingredients. According to her, “The condensed milk is sweetened with sugar (no HFCS)”.

As you can see, this makes for a very confusing customer experience, and I still don’t really know if it contains high fructose corn syrup (or not).

Why won’t they just publish ingredients online and end the confusion?

They obviously know what the ingredients are in each of their drinks, so I see no reason for them to hold back from publishing them (in their entirety) online just like they do for their food items. This would make it easy for their customers to know exactly what they are drinking. I believe the reason that they’re dragging their feet is because they don’t want you to know about the harmful additives in their biggest selling items.

Case In Point: You’ll get 2 doses of Class IV Caramel Coloring in Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte.


You’ve probably heard me talk about caramel coloring before, and that’s because I think it’s one of the most hazardous chemicals being added to our food. Although it sounds harmless, food safety and consumer watch dog groups say it is not.  

There are four different types (classes) of caramel coloring and two of those types contain the dangerous substance 4-methylimidazole (4-Mel).  Starbucks uses Class IV Caramel Color, considered the most harmful type that contains 4-Mel, in many of their drink syrups and sauces. It’s even in their whipped cream!  

Why Starbucks should stop using Class IV Caramel Coloring immediately:

  • It’s created in a laboratory by reacting corn sugar with ammonia and sulfites under high pressure and temperature, which produces the byproduct 4-Mel.
  • A U.S government funded study found that feeding mice caramel coloring IV (which contained 4-Mel) increased their risk of developing lung cancer and leukemia, at every dosage level
  • The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies 4-Mel as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.
  • Any food or drink that contains more than 29 micrograms of 4-Mel requires a cancer warning label In California (under Prop 65) that says, “WARNING: This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer.” 
  • The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) petitioned the FDA to ban caramel coloring in 2011 due to safety concerns and the cancer risk of allowing this ingredient in our food.
  • It has no nutritional benefits and is only used cosmetically to improve the appearance of food and drinks, yet there are safer alternatives available to food manufacturers.
  • It’s sometimes added unnecessarily to food and drinks that are naturally brown or that are not even visible to the consumer (e.g. baby vitamin drops).
  • It’s the most widely used food coloring in the world, which makes it easy to consume excessive amounts.
  • Thankfully, the FDA is currently reviewing its safety and GRAS status, due to a Consumer Reports study that found excessive levels in many popular drinks.

In previous correspondence with Starbucks, they told me they have no plans to remove the ingredient and, “in all instances where the color is used in our beverages, the level is well below the No Significant Risk Level (NSRL) allowed by California’s Prop 65, regarded as a conservative evaluation system, and safe to consume”. I haven’t seen any testing results that show the exact levels of 4-Mel found in Starbucks drinks, so we just have to take their word for it on this one. Also, even if the level is below what’s allowed, what if someone has a Vente (Starbuck’s largest size) with the double dose of caramel coloring within the syrup and whipcream – what’s the amount of caramel coloring then? Even if the levels are below what’s permitted in California, it’s still not safe. In the opinion of toxicologist Dr. Urvashi Rangan, “There is no ‘safe’ level of 4-MeI, 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”Roasted coffee itself has been shown to contain trace amounts of 4-Mel. Couple that with the fact that this coloring is in just about every processed food you can imagine, so you may be cumulatively eating more of this stuff than you realize – and no amount is safe.  

Would you really care if the syrup and sauces that they squirt into your coffee are colored brown? It’s going into brown coffee anyhow…. it’s totally ridiculous to me that caramel coloring is even considered a necessary ingredient and that Starbucks doesn’t ask their suppliers to completely remove it. 

Where’s the pumpkin?


After reading the ingredients in the Pumpkin Spice Latte, I can tell you that there’s absolutely no pumpkin. Instead, you’ll be drinking this:

  • A Huge Dose of Sugar – A lot of it. Order up a non-fat grande and you’ll get served 50 grams of sugar. Is it a pick-me-up from the caffeine, or all that toxic sugar?
  • Monsanto Milk – Even though over a hundred thousand customers are demanding it, Starbucks refuses to serve organic milk (at all locations). Due to consumer pressure, they stopped using milk from cows injected with growth hormones several years ago, but their milk still comes from cows that are fed genetically modified feed all day long – which is really supporting Monsanto and the biotech companies. When cows survive primarily on a cheap grain diet (corn, soy, alfalfa, cotton) it’s bad for the health of the animals, which is contributing to the overuse of antibiotics and the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. If they made the switch to organic milk, or even offered it for that matter, it would ensure that it didn’t come from cows grazing on GMO grains or injected with antibiotics.
  • Pesticide Residue – Starbucks doesn’t serve organic coffee in most locations. Non-organic coffee is considered one of the heaviest chemically treated crops in the world, especially when it’s imported from developing nations that allow pesticides that are restricted in the U.S. due to health concerns, such as Chlorpyrifos.
  • Natural and Artificial Flavors – Since this drink contains absolutely no pumpkin, this is where all that flavor comes from. The problem with both artificial and natural flavors is that their sources are proprietary and you never really know what they are made from. 
  • Preservatives and Sulfites – Which may cause allergic reactions or asthma attacks, and is linked with DNA damage.

If you’re vegan, I have a specific warning for you.

Many of you may be shocked to find out that when you order a Pumpkin Spice latte with soy milk, it’s still not vegan. This is because the Pumpkin Sauce contains condensed nonfat milk, and many Starbucks employees don’t realize this and have misinformed customers. This is yet another reason that Starbucks Corporate should be transparent about what’s in their drinks by publishing complete ingredients online. 

You’ll also get more than you bargained for if you order up a soy latte, because the Starbucks “proprietary” organic soy milk contains carrageenan – which is linked to gastrointestinal inflammation and cancer.  It also contains another dose of added sugar, preservatives and natural flavors. 

Complete Ingredients in Starbucks “Pumpkin” Spice Latte:

Milk, Espresso (Water, Brewed Espresso Coffee), Pumpkin Spice Flavored Sauce (Sugar, Condensed Nonfat Milk, High Fructose Corn Syrup or Sweetened Condensed Nonfat Milk (Milk, Sugar), Annatto (for color), Natural and Artificial Flavors, Caramel Color (class IV), Salt, Potassium Sorbate (preservative)), Whip Cream (Whipping Cream, Starbucks Vanilla Syrup (Sugar, Water, Natural Flavors, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid, Caramel Color (class IV))Pumpkin Spice Topping: Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Clove, Sulfites.


Starbucks Organic Soy Milk (plain): Filtered Water, Organic Whole Soybeans, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Calcium Carbonate, Organic Vanilla Flavor, Natural Flavors, Sea Salt, Carrageenan, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B12, Zinc Gluconate.

Starbucks Organic Soy Milk (vanilla): Filtered Water, Organic Whole Soybeans, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Calcium Carbonate, Natural Vanilla Flavors, Natural Flavors, Sea Salt, Carrageenan, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B12.

Ditch the Starbucks and Drink This Instead!

Mama Natural has a version of a homemade pumpkin spice latte that actually uses real pumpkin! And 100 Days of Real Food has a few quick and easy alternative recipes – see help graphic below. 


You can also try a latte with my homemade pistachio milk, which is one of my favorite treats! Also, seek out locally-owned organic fair trade coffee shops in your area. My favorite is Larry’s Beans Organic Fair Trade coffee. 

Starbucks: Stop Putting Toxic Chemicals In Your Pumpkin Spice Latte.

  1. Tell Starbucks to remove unnecessary carcinogenic caramel coloring by commenting on their Facebook and Twitter pages. 
  2. Call their customer service department at 1-800-782-7282 and ask them to remove these harmful additives and post all of their ingredients online.
  3. Join GMO Inside and sign the petition asking them to serve organic milk at all locations. 
  4. Share this blog post with everyone you know. The more people that know the truth, the more Starbucks will be forced to make a change. 

Thank you for your activism and spreading the word in advance. Together we can change the food system. Hopefully in the near future, we can have treats like these without worrying about the toxic chemicals in them!




900 Responses to “You’ll Never Guess What’s In A Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte (Hint: You Won’t Be Happy)”

  1. food junki

    if you like the smell of pumpkin in the fall, then please come and stand behind me — you will not be disappointed.

    • InformedPerson (to food junki)

      Sugar is not toxic, to say such a thing is utterly absurd. Humans have eaten sugar since the dawn of man. 50 grams of sugar is still below the EU’s RDA of sugar (90 grams.) How do you think pumpkin spice lattes are not bitter whatsoever, when Starbucks plain coffee is very much so?

      The recipe you provided would not make anything close to a pumpkin spice latte. If you don’t like the ingredients in it, then buy a different type of pumpkin spice syrup. They sell all sorts of alternatives at a number of places, including Williams Sonoma (Theirs is quite good.).

      Carrageenan does not cause cancer, and most people don’t have much of a reaction to it. It is in so many things, including most non-dairy milk alternatives; that it is almost unavoidable in some food categories.

      The vast majority of people in the world, especially people of European descent like myself, have no adverse reaction to sulfites. Wine has sulfites, as do many beers, ciders, and meads. Only a very small sect of people have a sulfite allergy.

      I admit, I would rather Starbucks use organic milk. But, conventional milk makes more business sense, and they can save billions a year using it.

      If you think sugar is toxic, sulfites are allergenic to all, coffee is loaded with pesticides, and carrageenan causes cancer; then why would you buy Starbucks products then. Most people know/expect it to have these ingredients. If you don’t want sugar in your coffee, drink organic espresso shots.

      I rather use organic coffee, I often do use it; but it is not as readily available as conventional coffee (Especially for Nespresso.)

      And all whipped cream as carrageenan. Organic, heavy cream, regular, low-fat, non-dairy, and fat free variants all have carrageenan. Even the local, grass-fed, organic whipped cream I buy from Whole Foods has it.

      Most baristas are unhygienic and do not wash their hands after going to the bathroom according to a recent study I saw today. And that is one of they many reasons why am just buying a Nespresso. If you just buy some organic milk, pumpkin spice syrup from Williams Sonoma or elsewhere, a Nespresso (With a built in or separate frother.), then you can make your own pumpkin spices lattes.

      • Healthy Gal (to InformedPerson)

        Dear InformedPerson,

        You are not so informed and need to read up on your facts. Everything Food Babe stated is true, and are things you should become more aware of. 1 out of 3 Canadians have cancer, and this is not just because it “simply happens”, it’s because of what’s consumed, environmental toxins etc…. It is truly scary to know that some of the ingredients being used in processed drinks and foods contains a large variety of sketchy ingredients. They are used because they make the food taste better, and mainly because they are cheap. You should be avoiding sugar (which feeds cancer), nitrites (which feeds cancer), and carrageenan (which feeds cancer). Of course it’s impossible to avoid everything, but making mostly healthy choices allows your body to get rid of toxic items much easier if you have them only once in a while. Thank you Food Babe for this informative article!!!

  2. Abbie

    why not just be honest about what is in it? I don’t understand. HFCS is in a lot of foods and the companies display this, if you put it in your product be honest about it.

    There are new rules for food labelling in the EU and people say it wont be followed. Why can’t we know what is in a product esp allergens?

  3. cdstealer

    Hi Food Babe, I’ve been Vegan for just over 1 year and I’m livid at the amount of non vegan ingredients used in things that should be vegan. I enjoy a Starbucks a couple times per week and I recently discovered that a lot of the syrups aren’t vegan. It seems the staff are as much in the dark about any ingredients and unfortunately I’ve found that a lot of staff don’t understand what Vegan is :( Thankfully (here in the UK at least) they use Alpro soy, so I only stick to plain old soy lattes now. I think the rule of thumb is, if it’s processed, it’s not Vegan.
    Thank you for this article. :)

  4. Michael

    I think I do understand why companies don’t disclose all information. It’s not just because their hiding dirty facts on how they prepare. If that’s the case, then that’s just plain BS. But sometimes, with tough competition, it’s not easy for them to share information as other competitors might try and do their own version of their product. But yeah, if they’re putting something that could be dangerous to health, they definitely should find an alternative.

  5. Joe

    Thanks for the information. For some time I have experienced allergy reactions from Starbucks lattes. Since the reaction (itching on ankles) came about 8 hours after I consumed the product I never suspected it. However, through trial and error and elimination I have been able to produce the same reaction repeatedly by consuming pumpkin spice or other flavored lattes. Perhaps this is anecdotal, but I’m very suspicious now. If I avoid their flavored drinks, I don’t have the problem. I’m just curious which one of the ingredients is causing this and if other people have similar reactions.

  6. Donna

    I should know better but when you are depressed you do stupid things. Yesterday I didn’t have time to make my own coffee so I bought a medium-size pumpkin spice Latte without cream at Starbucks sipping it while doing my grocery shopping. I have been on a gluten free diet for over 10 years and finding lately many so-called gluten free foods are bothering me so I have been trying to avoid them and GMOs too. Almost immediately, my upper abdominal area started bloating up but I still drank the coffee. I didn’t eat much that night because my stomach was bothering and around 12:30 at night, it really hit me hard and I really suffered. My upper abdominal area was so bloated and hard as a rock and I didn’t know if the discomfort was coming from my gallbladder or liver but both hurt so bad and the pain went around my lower right back. Every breath I took was more painful and I thought I was going to need to call 911. I had tremendous gas so I took a probiotic and some aloe vera juice but nothing helped the extreme discomfort I was feeling. I started feeling nauseous and had to vomit a few times last night. I finally got up and put a heating pad on that area and fell back to sleep on the couch until I had to vomit again. I don’t know if it was the coffee or not but I felt good until I drank it. Today I still have bloating and tenderness near my gallbladder and liver and have no appetite. What a time for this to happen because I can’t eat much right now.

    • Delza909 (to Donna)

      It sounds like cholecystitis to me, I’ve seen these same symptoms 8n many if not majority of people with gallbladder issues. If you have issues such as gallstones and consume anything that irritated the gallbladder it will trigger an attack. Example, dairy, coffee, cream, oils etc. I hope that by now you’ve been able to know what that was if it has not happened again. If it’s persisted it’s worth checking out.

  7. shanna

    food companies do not care about your health period! they only care about your money. Most Americans are stupid, lazy and irresponsible and simply dont care, flapping their lips and talking trash is more important than knowing anything or having an education and especially the mentality to eat correctly. if you eat or drink corporate junk food youll eventually get sick and suffer bad health at a later age and you will regret it.. If you actually stopped for 1 second to realize how cheap simple easy & healthy it is to grow and consume your own food all year round you wouldnt be stupid enough to eat food laced with poisons and toxins that only line the pockets of greedy despicable lying individuals of these corporations ” criminals” that work within them will take your money, lie to you while you pay the biggest price.

  8. Knarly

    Love it. Thanks for the Pumpkin Latte warning. Because Starbucks is not up front will warn people about their lattes.

    That is what bothers me, they are not upfront. That’s a beware sign to me. Like with GMO.

  9. Karon

    I believe that Starbucks is owned by Pepsico. Pepsico also owns Frito Lay who admittedly uses GMOs in their products, citing that the FDA has not found them to be dangerous or harmful. They also own Quaker, as well as several other brands. It would be worthwhile to look at their website to see what all products they do own and stay clear of all of them.

  10. game

    Thanks for a marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed reading
    it, you happen to be a great author. I will always bookmark your blog and will come back later in life.
    I want to encourage you continue your great posts, have a nice morning!

  11. Food Babe (to Tommy)

    Tommy – Please don’t call me that horribly processed candy. Any other word – fine – but not that! Haha.

  12. Sarah (to Tommy)

    Thank you! People, fast food/ coffee shops are not required to serve healthy. I get that it sucks sometimes. Guess what? You don’t have to do business with them. Why do people feel the need to bash a company because of what they have been serving for years? Why don’t you start your own coffee shop with 100% organic everything? That would be more effective than crying on the internet.

  13. Mick (to Food Babe)

    ya it bad and not v good lol BAD FOOD IS NO GOOD U KNO?? its supposed to be PUMPKIN SPICE but they should just rename to NOT ANY PUMPKINS BUT ACTUALLY TONS OF TOXICS + CHEMICALS and like preservatives and stuff DRINK PRODUCT . but not drink product for me i dont touch that stuff you better open ur eyes food industry is trying to kill u and get ur money when u dead on the floor they come and snatch it listen to FOOD BABY.. they prob put illegal artificial sweeteners in there too its worse than soda i would honestly rather inject soda into my veins than drink this SUPER DISGUSTING CRAP

  14. Tasneem Noor (to Food Babe)

    Hehe love u vani ure so cute ;)

  15. Sarah (to Food Babe)

    Thank you for doing this research and posting this information. Your article was positive and you didn’t just point out a problem, you suggested possible solutions. I for one an grateful to be made aware. If it wasn’t for education like you are giving I would still be in the dark.

  16. Allison (to Food Babe)

    Did you see Snopes decided to dedicate a page to this?

  17. Mark Stephenson (to Arthur Dent)

    Arthur Dent

    The Hitchhiker. In my opinion Vani is providing information that should be readily available to every consumer and she is also providing publicly available information on the harmful effects of some of those ingredient. It seem she is a little more balanced than you like.

  18. MVC (to Heywood)

    Heywood – there are substantial differences between a genetically modified plant and a hybridized or cross-bred plant. The first has its DNA forcefully altered in a laboratory (it couldn’t possibly happen in nature); the second is introduced by humans, but is accepted by the plant naturally (nature allows it). Cross-breeding has been happening since farmers came into existence. Genetic modification began commercially only in the mid-1990’s. There are plenty of food products that are not genetically modified, but are grown conventionally as hybrids in the grocery. We could get into a discussion of the problems of farms that practice monocultures with hybrid plants, but that wasn’t your focus. The primary GM foods are corn, soy, cotton, and canola (rapeseed).

    Also, while it’s fair to disagree with Vani, it certainly does not put your viewpoint in a positive light when you call her names. If you have a legitimate contrary viewpoint, many people would undoubtedly love to see it.

  19. Bally (to Cory)

    Really?? Are you really going to attack her on the basis of where her business is incorporated? Any person is free to choose where they live, work or do business for whatever reason, tax or otherwise, as long as it’s legal.

    As for anyone attacking Vani here on the issues that she brings up, I have to say that although at times I feel we may be taking it too far with some items, the fact of the matter is that this is EXACTLY what it’s going to take to change the food industry in our country. I have seen cancer and miscarriage happen to some close loved ones and it boiled down to the food choices they made. The problem was they DIDN’T know they were making the wrong choices when they consumed the foods they did. A lot of people are not aware of what’s wrong in the food chain today. That is why it’s necessary to bring awareness to what’s really in the everyday foods that we consume.

    Now this has nothing to do with Vani as a person because personally, I don’t know her. And whatever her source of income may be doesn’t matter to me either as long as she’s earning honestly. Even if she’s earning from this website, I’d rather pay her for shedding light on the truth than the corporations that deviously feed us crap and make billions. We all have to agree that these are all facts that are being brought up. If you can argue with the facts listed here, that’s perfectly fine. Let’s bring those to the table and clarify. Those who don’t think GMO’s or other items listed here are bad for you then they’re free to overlook the facts and make their informed decisions as they please and continue to eat the way they want. But come on guys, let’s not stoop down to name calling and all. It’s just not civilized.


  20. Sharon K. Ridenour (to Sarah)

    If you don’t like the way it is made or the ingredients DO NOT BUY IT. I doubt if it will kill you that fast anyway! We all are going to die from something so why not from a Starbucks Coffee! Geez you people are looney I think!

  21. Knight (to Sarah)

    The basis of this was – a company hiding the true facts/misleading people with faulty facts, and not being honest/not coming clean.
    Before you tell people to stop whinging about it on the internet, please stop whining yourself about things you obviously don’t understand or care to figure out what is being talked about.

  22. Jen (to Sarah)

    I don’t think it’s bashing as it is informative – I mean did you know what the ingredients were? I look at all my food ingredients when making a purchase- not that hard to do if you don’t mind reading. Interesting how much you can learn especially those really big scientific names that your like what am I eating.. Is that even food???

  23. Anon (to Sarah)

    Yeah, I totally understand that. And I also understand where you are coming from. I guess people’s point is that they don’t like being deceived (esp. those who don’t think very logically or are very guillable).

    For example, someone may believe that coffee from a coffee shop has real ingredients, not chemicals that taste like real ingredients. You kinda get what I mean?

    It is also of my opinion that you are going from one extreme to another: all chemicals to all organic. Some people wouldn’t mind having non-organic coffee (or other produce), given that it isn’t laden with unnecessary chemicals. E.g. a coffee shop using non-organic produce, that is fresh and not laden with chemicals.

    Also, why can’t there be an organic option? Sure, it’ll be more expensive… but customers are, more likely that not, willing to pay for it. If it was implemented, then it’d be a win-win situation. Starbucks would make more sales, and the customers would be able to choose organic if they want to.

    Anyways, that’s just my opinion.
    Have a nice day C:

  24. Cheeka (to Sarah)

    I Agree…you do not need to purchase the Pumpkin Spice Latte..I go to starbucks all the time and have never tried one…But on the other hand, excellent work finding out the ingredients and ick!!

  25. betty (to Sarah)

    It’s called being aware And educated.
    It’s not just about the fact that coffee shops are not healthy places to eat, or organic.
    It’s about being lied to and fed ingredients that are literally killing us, slowly.
    Ingredients that don’t belong in any food.
    If you put a frog in water and slowly turn the heat up he will sit there until he cooks to death.
    Don’t be a frog.

  26. Liz (to Sharon K. Ridenour)

    Cognitive dissonance.

  27. Naomi Sifuentes (to Sharon K. Ridenour)

    I agree completely. I came on her page because I was curious to see what kind of feedback she was getting and wow, I didn’t know that many crazy people existed in the world.
    There are pros and cons to EVERYTHING we consume, including water!
    Until she can show proof that people had died due to a drink they had a Starbucks, frankly, it’s just not that important.
    If dissecting food is what her job is, then have at it. Otherwise….she kinda just sounds like someone incredibly annoying to go out with. Imagine conversations with waiters. Poor waiters.

  28. Michelle (to Sharon K. Ridenour)

    and your an idiot. Someone is trying to warn you of unhealthy ingredients and you attack them Look behind you theres a truck coming, oh wait you don’t want to know.

  29. Frontierland (to Sharon K. Ridenour)

    M A G I C A L T H I N K I N G

  30. Heather (to Sharon K. Ridenour)

    Enjoy your long, drawn-out death-by-Starbucks cup o’ joe. It’ll only take 30 years or so. Why not?

  31. Joel (to Joy)

    “… scaring people over things you know nothing about .” You are DRINKING and EATING things you know nothing about! Or do you? Let’s hear what YOU know. This report reveals a lot about ingredients that do not require a degree in molecular biology to understand and MORE THAN ENOUGH TO TAKE ACTION ON, especiall in the face of corporate stonewalling. Do you understand? They are xenobiotic – foreign to human biochemistry and likely harmful, whether in the short or long-term. There is no more time for naivete. If you believe that nothing on the market is harmful because it is on the market you are sitting in Darwin’s Waiting Room.

  32. marie (to Naomi Sifuentes)

    Some people care about what they consume and some people don’t,if you could care less about ingredients why would you want to read anything on this website?
    Some people are allergic and have to know and some people want to what they are eating.I want to buy healthy as i can but do not want to buy something that states it is healthy and natural when it is not.

  33. Vance (to Naomi Sifuentes)

    Why do people get on here and criticize food babe for giving much needed info to people. Folks are like, “If you don’t want it, don’t drink it”. Well, how else are you supposed to decide what you want to consume if no one told you what poisons are in it??? Just like the subway bread, I had no idea I was consuming yoga mat until I was informed by Food Babe. And for people that willingly still consume products that are known to give you various diseases, and make fun of people that try to avoid them…. Well who is the crazy one?? The person who chooses to put vitals inside they’re body and feel good, or the one’s who don’t care and consume nothing but garbage and die uncomfortable and early? Acting like they can’t figure out why they catch diseases and blame it on bad luck. smh at these folks…

  34. Heather (to Naomi Sifuentes)

    Congrats Naomi! I think you may have won the “most ignorant” award.

    I don’t even care enough to refute the hot mess of ridiculous words you just spewed all over.

    Frankly, you’re just not that important…

  35. Joel (to Paulie)

    Here’s a single drumbeat for you Paulie: Without critical thinking you SHOULD be afraid – afraid of your own decisions.

  36. Steven (to Matthew)

    We have to stop this way of thinking.

  37. Bleufishcat (to Michelle)


  38. Jennifer (to Michelle)

    “You’re” an idiot.

  39. Chrissy (to Michelle)

    Great response!

  40. Karla (to Michelle)


  41. Michelle A. (to Bleufishcat)

    Honestly I had no business writing that reply. My normal response would be that people should do what they want. I just found it a bit frustrating that when someone is trying to point out that there are harmful chemicals being added to our drinks, so many people act as if they are personally being threatened. Truthfully if people don’t want to know the truth, they have that right. I happen to be pro-Starbucks. I just want them to use a different soy milk.

  42. Jose (to Michelle A.)

    Unfortunately they are not pro-you. They’re only after your money and care less if you have a stroke and die from their products. You are just a casualty of business as usual.

  43. Kendall (to Sheridan)

    Are you just upset cuz it worked? After all, you’re here aren’t you!

  44. Knight (to Jamie)

    Please edit your posts. If you want to try and be the voice of reason, at least make sure what you are saying is spelled correctly, with proper grammar.

    If you want to call someone out on truth (or lack there of) and not using sources, please make sure you yourself actually include the point of what you are trying to say, and back it up.

  45. Dana (to Jamie)

    Don’t believe everything you read here!!! Contrary to popular belief and just plain believing “crap about organic”, not everything that claims to be “organic” is any different from “real food”!!!! Ignorance and wanting to spend more money on the same foods is driving people to believe LIES about all things organic, wake up people!! There are no antibiotics or added hormones in your milk! Would you drink potato milk?? Soy Milk? Almond Milk? Yikes, do you seriously know what’s in that “crap”?? All these “supposed health drinks” have added preservatives and additives, they are over-processed and not natural. Drink and eat the foods that nature has provided, stop eating all the over processed options and go back to the real healthy, right from the cow, the chicken, etc. Organic just COSTS more!!!! Same food, same feed to the animals just a required time of grazing in the field…….

  46. Ashley (to Jamie)

    OMG, you’re one of, those.

    GMO’s are bad, check.
    Processed foods are bad, check.
    Carcinogens are bad, check.
    People should not expect to be poisoned when buying a drink, check.

    Yep, good work Vani!
    And, thanks for the recipe for a healthy cup of Jo.

  47. Martin M. (to Jamie)

    To Jamie:
    Unless you are color blind, you are making an accusation about missing sources that is not true to bring attention to your great personal wisdom and put down this lady that works so hard to protect the American people. They are clearly shown in blue letters to identify a link to the sources. She wants disclosure of the ingredients. That is a fair request. I have food allergies and even developed antibodies to fight those allergies, so I have to know what is in the food that I consume. Since you are excited about research, why don’t you investigate the increase in different cancers in the context of the introduction of these food additives? You will find out that cancers increased 4 or 5 years after the introduction of each of those suspicious ingredients.

  48. Frontierland (to Jamie)

    Why not go to Subway for lunch and then wash it down after with a Starbucks Pumpkin Latte, go get a flu shot, don’t take vitamins or supplements, listen to everything your doctor says, take pharmaceuticals to mask any symptoms you may be having and never ever eat anything organic.

  49. Martin M. (to Gary N Columbus OH)

    To Gary N:
    Overreaction to common food ingredients? The issue is that these chemicals added to the food and drink are not friendly to our bodies. Many of these ingredients get the approval of the FDA without proper testing and subsequent follow up for a few years to determine if there is an adverse reaction to them. As decades go by, there are more cases of cancer and other diseases diagnosed. Some of the “common food ingredients” have been identified as carcinogens. If you do not care about your health to avoid anything unnecessarily added to our food and drinks, then allow other people to be enlightened y these articles. Even though these articles sometimes lack the sources, the evidence is real and undeniable and have prompted many nations, mostly in Europe, to forbid the use of those additives. Hopefully neither you nor any of your loved ones will develop cancer for considering the advise on this article an “overreaction to common food ingredients.” I have seen my share of young lives lost to cancer where other factors were not present (like asbestos or smoking) to know that food additives have a lot to do with the premature lost of so many lives.

  50. Sierrra (to Sheridan)

    can we all agree that if you don’t care about this stuff then there are other articles to read on the internet? You knew what this article would be about when you clicked it. No need to complain now.

  51. Frontierland (to Nick)

    Do some research for yourself. Regular coffee and tea have higher pesticide levels, synthetic chemical fertilizers, and fluoride than most foods.
    Breeding a fear of GMO’s?
    There are now many long term studies that prove the negative impacts of GMO’s, for one, look at the most recent French study mentioned in the Guardian.
    For the record, unless you eat mostly processed foods, most of our food supply is NOT GMO as you claim. Corn, Soy, Alfalfa, to name a few…
    Taking pleasure in ‘bursting our bubble’ is pathetic, as most of us know that you can buy Non-GMO Organic food. And if if you steer clear of processed foods you can eliminate GMO’s significantly enough to reduce the risk.

    Remember, suing your parable… inevitably the wolf does show up.

    You need to research your assertions before you act like you know anything on the subject outside of your programmed emotional response.

  52. Amanda (to Frontierland)

    You just described my life. Vaccines save lives, the benefits of vitamins and supplements are negligible at best, and considering my doctor has a medical degree and I don’t, I do tend to listen to her.

  53. betty (to Matthew)

    You must work for Starbucks.
    I can’t imagine anyone getting so hostile towards a person who is looking out for your best interest.

  54. Toni (to Matthew)

    Wow, such anger aimed at the writer of an informative article. You sir, are out of line here. By the way, when I read this, I decided I will never drink the pumpkin latte again. So see? You’re already wrong.

  55. betty (to phil)

    Interesting comment because if we put the same efforts into the companies polluting our air maybe we could change that too.

  56. Jan M (to phil)

    I have a better idea, Phil: get up from the couch and organise yourself in order to fight for cleaner air, because you’re right: it’s slowly killing us.

  57. betty (to Tamir Cassel)

    Not likely, it’s full of deadly chemicals. But hey you’re welcome to it.

  58. Maureen (to betty)

    Betty your reply gave us a good laugh.

  59. Cassidy (to Matthew)

    McDonalds secret sauce is thousand island dressing. :)

  60. jay (to Matthew)

    Your diet consists mainley of Mcdondalds, starbucks and Gmo..that explains your non sensical rant..i dont think this site is for people of your caliber, or taste. move along before you hurt yourself.

  61. Jan M (to Matthew)

    Well Matthew, somebody should explain to you how capitalism works, then you maybe would understand why people like Vani do what they do: because we can not count on ‘organisations’ such as the FDA to really care about our health. But you friendly way of conversing will surely solve every possible problem.. Maybe try to come up with real arguments next time?

  62. Megan (to Matthew)

    Soda is questioned all the time…
    You are so rude about your opinion. Reevaluate your life.

  63. Amy McGraw (to Alex)

    Alex, I agree with the first part of your post. I love Starbucks! I too get miffed when people rant about choices others make. No one is forcing them to go to or support Starbucks. However, I choose to refuse to stoop to the level of name calling.

  64. Alex (to Jan M)

    Actually. they way our respiratory system works is that the air oxidizes the iron in our blood and through that chemical reaction the blood cells slightly dies a little. has nothing to do with anything in the air.

  65. Fire (to Matthew)

    What’s wrong with making money? Of course she needs to get paid for her work. I hope she’s paid well, she’s doing a wonderful job and she looks darn good, too!

    Starbucks and all its shareholders get paid to serve you the lowest quality product that they can get away with to retain massive profits. Why are you crying about this?

  66. jay (to Matthew)

    sure matt..troll..go crawl back under your rock…

  67. Earth (to nate)

    “Scientifically illiterate” posts? Didn’t see anyone drop science, just questions.

    Your dead chemically derived diet is killing you. America is the fattest country on Earth. In addition, you want other Americans (Obamacare) to pay for your sick gluttonous habits.

    This is the heart of the issue. You trolls cry about taxes, cry about Obama, cry about health care costs, but yet stand up for the very same corporations that made you sick, dumb and diseased.

    I don’t get it.

  68. Michelle A. (to Jennifer)

    Yawn! You are not even original Bleufishcat already posted the same comment. Seriously with so many important issues at hand all you can do is correct one piece of grammar. Either become part of the discussion or go be a Troll somewhere else.

  69. Stephen Bowen (to J-P)

    @J-P, the word “toxic” has never implied someone drop over dead instantly. To be toxic means it’s very bad for your health, and in repeated dosages over time will cause you to fall over dead from one malady or another.

    This is a great article for its attempt to raise awareness about a specific product and company over a controversial issue that is becoming less and less controversial each day, which is our health and wellness in respect to the industrialization of food we consume on a daily basis. If you are not on this ‘wellness train’ then by all means continue exercising your lifestyle and live out the rest of your days in this growing cesspool of no-regards, consumer-product manufacturing.

    Every day technology is making it easier and cheaper to manufacture food. And while this is a good thing in most fields, it’s not in a place where our organic bodies . . . our very DNA does not match up properly with the food we consume. Who knows, maybe in a thousand years we’ll be expected to eat styrofoam. I for one don’t think the evolutionary speed of our digestive systems can keep up with the current evolutionary speed of product manufacturing.

  70. selina (to J-P)

    you have said a lot for such an article….j-p…..however you seem to have missed some of the true meaning of the message….the 4=mel is a classified cancer causing agent….it is ashamed that all states do not have to report these findings…..the cows are not just treated with antibiotics…these are growth hormones that have changed us and our children….people are wondering why their kids are developing so early….this is the reason….stop acting like this is nonsense and think of why there are 25% of people affected with cancer or other problems in our generation that this was not before and now this is happened to our parents or our grands since they have not been able to work on farms etc… is all in the seeds, the way the animals are grown, and in the processing of everything of what we want of our foods in our fast paced lives…we are not paying attention to the junk that is used to accomplish these wants of ours…..must for instance take a minute to really listed to this story…my grandfather and grandmother married when he was 23 and she was 16 in 1920….he farmed, she also helped with the food as in canning, for the winter, she did work in the textile industry when they hired, he would work some in the lumber so they could buy some things but for the most part they raised everything from the farm….they also had 9 kids….my grandfather lived until he was 83…..the tractor rolled over him…..this was in 1980… grandmother loved all of her kids and grands and great grands….loved the sunday dinners….she was still with us intil 1993….this story is written because there were not a lot of mel4;s in ithe food, there were not the cancer causing drugs in all of our food in our childhood….and we felt better… that we do not have this stability and common ground in our family, there is cancer there is fibromyalgia, chronis pain, restless leg, too much to list….so do not be so easy to dismiss the writing that is on the wall sometimes it is very

  71. Britt (to hmmyeah)

    LOL That’s what I said!!!

  72. Hoover (to Stephen Bowen)

    I’m Type 1 Diabetic… Tis toxic to me, lol!

  73. Ambulance Chaser (to Stephen Bowen)

    So then, a “toxic dose” is a dose that would kill you, if it were a greater dose?

  74. Mike Weston (to Joe)

    ” Genetically modified food is modified so it resists bugs without the use of pesticides.”

    Uh…. no.

    The overwhelming majority of GM crops are Roundup-Ready. By design, they are drenched in herbicide. Wherever GM crops are introduced, chemical use goes up. Way up! That’s the whole point. The big 4 (Monsanto,Dow,Bayer,Syngenta) are chemical companies, first and last. Are they going to produce something that reduces profits ?
    That brings me to a point you missed, FoodBabe. ( Thanks Joe) The pesticides ( & fungicides & herbicides?) in the coffee, aren’t the only only worry, re agricultural chemicals. The herbicides used on the cattle feed, can persist.
    See Growing A Greener World Television’ episode (#47?) on “Killer Compost””

    Organic crops require more pesticides?
    Organically grown crops are more resistant to pests, diseases, and bad weather (not to mention better flavor & nutrition), so that statement is quite dubious. Suppose it were true, you’re still conflating quality and quantity. Would you rather ingest 4oz of garlic oil, or 1 oz of imidicloprid? ;)

  75. Jim Beranis (to Mike Weston)

    A good friend of mine is a farmer who admits to using GMO seeds. His reason? Crop yields are in multiples. He also keeps a small plot for organic crops to sell at the farmers market where their is a huge demand. When asked how he can prove the stuff he sells is organic he cuts or peels the stuff and shows the worms and beetles eating it up and they are believers and purchase from him. Needless to say he has to sell his organic stuff fast. It gets eaten by pests. His organic food doesn’t last. Incidentally most commercial organic farms do use pesticides. Organic pesticides. Great huh? DDT is an organic pesticide, so think twice about food labeled “organic”.

  76. Tom (to johndoedo)

    John, one correction for you as I thought the same thing about GMO’s until I’ve looked into it. In order for something to require being labelled as a GMO it actually requires artificial modification of the genes of the organism. Selective breeding doesn’t qualify as GMO. Instead, if something *actually is* a Genetically Modified Organism it is usually because they have spliced in genes from other organisms that couldn’t be achieved through natural reproduction. Whether or not that means there will be any consequences is unknown.

  77. Emmanouela (to betty)

    Excellent metaphore the one with the frog!

  78. Justine (to Bally)

    Amen to that!

  79. jeff (to Bally)

    Just because its legal (beneficial) to set up a corpoaration doesn’t make it the most ‘rightesous’ decision. I mean what Starbucks is doing is legal…

  80. Brian (to coffe drinker)

    I’m a big fan of snopes, but that “false” refutation actually supports exactly what this article is saying. “The flavoring syrup available for purchase in homemade beverages may contain HFCS, but that formula differs from the one used in Starbucks retail outlets.” Read this post again, and the Snopes article. A link isn’t the same as an argument, you have to actually use your critical thinking skills. Or contact Starbucks yourself and find out.

  81. Janet (to snork)

    Food Babe is TEACHING us that our government and Starbucks are very corrupt. Thank you Food Babe. I will NEVER buy another Pumpkin Spice Latte again:)

  82. Dan (to snork)

    Being paid to provide a service? What a dastardly concept!

    I didn’t actually notice the ads until you said something. They’re really not all that intrusive.

  83. Michelle (to )

    Seriously, snopes? smh…that statement posted on snopes is so full of corporate jargan. I especially like the part where they say that HFCS is not used in the syrups in their online retail shops – what a BUNCH of BS! Bet you bottom dollar you go in ask to see the back of the syrup bottle and HFCS is the 2nd to 3rd ingredient listed. #geteducated

  84. Ana (to Allison) (to )

    Allison if you read what you wrote you are really saying how wonderful it is to work for them. What they offer their employees, what it does for the community. But you have not said anything about their product itself. Do not worry that Starbucks will not loose the clients. Most of the peole that are loyal toStarbucks prefer not to know what they are intaking (ingredients) because the taste is everything. Lets face it this research has really made the data collector go in circle. Why cant they just come up front with the truth??? Because it will hurt them. Well it is a choice that they take and the clients again perfer to just be blind and keep the taste as priority.

  85. Poppy (to Michelle)

    @Alison – flexible scheduling and a benefits package doesn’t meant that they aren’t putting dangerous chemicals in their food.

  86. frank (to Alison)

    To Alison. So please do tell me what ingredients make up the artificial flavours ? How many mg’s of 4 Mel are there in their coffee ? How carcinogenic are their coffee beans because they purposely burns them? Etc. etc. I thought that these are fair questions to ask you since you told Lindsey to educate herself. Speaking of which educate yourself on the Illuminati & their agenda. Go back to Starbucks original logo. It was upside down to what it is now. It had two horns and looked more like a goat. Starbucks is Illuminati. Please do educate yourself Alison.

  87. Glenn Friesen (to Beth)

    “Due to the variety of sizes, milk options, and other customizations offered at Starbucks, a standard nutritional profile for the Pumpkin Spice Latte is not available. However, the Starbucks site allows consumers to select their preferred options to see complete nutritional information for that and all other menu offerings. ” — The conclusion of the Snopes article which reads like copy/pasted P.R. spin from Starbucks.

    Though I usually trust Snopes, in this case, I do not. All the Snopes article does in this case is refute the claims made by Foodbabe with other unsubstantiated claims made by Starbucks and by the FDA — there is no additional insight, only references to what Starbucks or the FDA says on their website. The Snopes article does not add any useful information to this debate, it only sides with the traditionally more powerful corporate and government entities — entities which have proven themselves to allow harmful chemicals into our foods ^^.

    Ultimately, only actual chemical testing to prove the quantify inclusion/exclusion of each chemical compound or chemical group can settle this debate. Neither FoodBabe, Starbucks, nor the FDA has released any chemical testing results — so the debate remains a matter of who you trust: An independent health-conscious blogger who is here trying to make you/us healthier; or a corporation who is legally bound to maximize revenue at all costs whom has been proven to include carcinogenic chemicals in their products [which do taste GREAT, but are, you know, cancerous/unhealthy].

    ^^ Azodicarbonamide [the yoga mat chemical that was in Subway bread and is still in food from McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, your local grocery..] is an extremely common bread ingredient that is fully approved and recognized as safe by the FDA…..
    ^^ Carrageenan that causes intestinal inflammation and is carcinogenic once consumed. Carrageenan is in Starbucks cakes, scones, and yogurt….

  88. ideb (to Lynn Arrowood)

    It would be fairly difficult to copy a recipe filled with chemicals since most of us don’t have access to potassium sorbate, high fructose corn sugar, natural and artificial flavors. And who would want to add that crap to their food. The point is: we want to know what we are buying. Period.

  89. Kevin (to Knight)

    If you want want to know what’s going in a drink, ask in person. Get off the internet, stop making calls, and go to one of the 40 Starbucks in a 10 block radius.

  90. Miza (to MVC)

    Yes , there is a difference between cross-pollination and GMOs. Thanks for the defnition of each. However, you act as if the defintion of a GMO should explain in itself why it’s a bad thing. I don’t find something being created in a laboratory inherently scary. Perhaps there are good arguments against them, but so far all I’ve seen is panic and haven’t heard anything to back that panic up. I believe that a list of comparisons between the two forms of human-driven genetic alteration (genetic modification and cross-pollination) would be helpful.

  91. MVC (to Miza)

    Hi Miza!
    Thanks for asking! I agree that the fact that it was created in a lab doesn’t on the face of it indicate a problem. There is some really wonderful scientific invention going on, also. On my own very unscientific level (though I’ve read tons), I’m quite concerned about the increase in pesticides (particularly glyphosate) which has been required of farmers ever since GM corn and soy became the norm. The insects adapt to the old level of pesticide, and the farmer then requires a stronger version and more of it for the pesticide to work. That goes into our food. Also, I am concerned that novel proteins have entered our diets as a result of the novel proteins that are inserted into the GM food plants. The rise of allergies, food allergies, asthma, ADHD, immune disorders, autism, etc. has paralleled the rise in GMOs in our food supply. The primary people doing the safety research (such as it is) are the very people who profit from the GMOs and glyphosate being on the market, so their data is pretty suspect. The classic example of a similar “wolves guarding the sheep” situation is when cigarette manufacturers “proved” that cigarettes weren’t bad for us. In fact, they said they were good for us and had doctors saying so in their ads! I would feel so much more comfortable with GM foods if their safety for humans was proved BEFORE they were allowed into the food supply.

    Just a quick reminder that with cross-pollination, our systems are already familiar with the proteins that end up in the final food. Remember, it happens between two plants that are already pretty similar to each other, so it is significantly less likely to spike a food allergy that didn’t already exist. It also happens relatively slowly compared to active genetic modification, which happens instantly with a protein that is brand new to that food.

    So, that’s not very evidence based, it’s true. Here are some articles for you to consider so that you can make up your own mind:

    This article is pretty balanced and a good place to start understanding the concerns, especially about potential food allergies:


Leave a Reply