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

Updated 4/6/2015 (see bottom of post)

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!



Update 4/6/2015: I received an email from Starbucks representatives that they have started to remove caramel coloring level IV. “we recently transitioned the vanilla syrup in our US and Canada stores to a new formula which is free from caramel coloring. We prioritized vanilla as it is an ingredient in our whipped cream, so with this one change we removed caramel coloring from many beverages. We are actively working on the rest and don’t have a specific timeline to share at this time.” Go Food Babe Army Go! 


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

  1. Give me a break! Article was so long I got tired reading, I eat healthy but still drink non fat pumpkin spice lattes, thank you Starbucks!

    1. You who complain about this article, are you serious?
      I would ask if you are paid to support Starbucks, but then
      maybe you would be about as honest as the ingredients in the latte.

      1. Don’t be blind, many of the so called health foods and beverages you buy are owned by parents companies like Pepsi Co that do support Monsanto. If you don’t like it thdm don’t drink it.

    2. Me too! They use pumpkin spice syrup just like every other coffee shop. You can buy it in the coffee isle of the grocery store. Don’t like it don’t shop there! Just like I won’t buy at Dutch Brothers coffee stands because I don’t like how they make their mochas with chocolate milk.

  2. Hello!
    I am a huge advocate of eating and living healthy, and try to practice this within my own lifestyle. With that being said, I also LOVE coffee (and the many flavors you can make it!) AND am a former Starbucks employee.

    I understand that the pumpkin spice syrup contains no real pumpkin, but WHAT COFFEE CREAMER DOES CONTAIN REAL INGREDIENTS? I wanted to pose this question to the writer because it seems odd to me that you are pinpointing one specific brand and flavor, when you can go to the grocery store and get syrups/flavorings that are JUST AS BAD FOR YOU. Look at the ingredients in Coffeemate, Lucerene brand, International Delights, Great Value, Baileys Coffee Creamer, etc.

    I am a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice fan and get REALLY excited about it’s arrival! It’s the start of my holiday traditions, and brings back pleasant memories for me. I understand that by drinking it I am not obtaining any nutritional value, but I don’t care! Everyone has their “cheat” meal/drink, and if you don’t want to put it in your body- then don’t! All I ask is that you don’t take it out on those who like something. It doesn’t effect you. Why try to ruin something for those who it brings joy too?

    1. Staci,
      Vani would never promote any of the brands you’ve mentioned above some as Coffeemate and International Delight. The point of this post is not to “take it out” on people who enjoy the drink. It is simply to inform people who do not know that this product contains harmful ingredients. She also provides some alternatives from Lisa Leake at
      So enjoy your PSL, but don’t get mad at Vani or others who are simply exposing the true ingredient list that Starbucks has tried extremely hard to hide….

      1. Thank you Frankie! I hope more people like you keep refuting all of these ridiculous comments, or at the very least, bringing the attention back to the core issues.

        I can’t believe the ignorance this post has highlighted. It is mindboggling.

    2. I agree Staci, who would expect real pumpkin in their coffee drink? Also so many so called healthy beverages out there that are owned by big companies that support GMO. You know if it did have real pumpkin in it they would say they have pesticides.

    3. Hi, just to say to Staci, that asks which coffees contains real ingredients, that here in Europe, we have historical tradition of doing coffee, and since ages, we still use the basic plant, the basic milk, on a typical traditional french terrassee, and she should try the old way of eating and drinking.
      Just look at the shape of americans, and the one of europeans… you will inderstand that your industrial way of living is totaly wrong.
      And so, we are fed up that american brands are invading our street with this kind of food.
      You are already lost in your contradiction, so we are not. So I invite you to disscover that earth is made of natural things and food, and if you destroyed all your good traditions and good way of living, we still not.
      Come and try real life, I can ensure you that it still does exists…
      But maybe you are just doing propaganda for multinational food brands… that is not fair and clean…
      Cheers, have a pure, simple and natural coffee, that costs ten times less that your Starbucks…
      Erwan from France, the nation of fooding…

      1. And to answer to another question “Why try to ruin something for those who it brings joy too?”
        Because, what is the power of an independent person, infront of a huge multinational that makes billions of profit ? One use the money to give wrong informations, the other is just a potential victim of chemicals tryes.
        So Why ???? but just to inform people that they have to care with business that realy don’t care about people, and about no one by the way…
        Are you against the fact that humanity have to progress and go forward ? I thaught that american spirit was based on progress, human caring, fair, and so…
        Does this was the past ? Are you cynical to the point to send people to death ???
        Great from you…
        Cheers little monster

    4. “I am a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice fan and get REALLY excited about it’s arrival! It’s the start of my holiday traditions, and brings back pleasant memories for me.”

      Wow! Staci, did you actually read what you typed before hitting the submit button?
      Are you allowed around children or small pets? Forget for a moment he ingredients. Assuming you are an adult, you don’t find your comments a bit creepy? Don’t worry, you are not alone, there are a lot of Stacis out there. They almost break down and cry when a store runs out. And the crazy signs the employees post on the front door when they run out – they are worse than obituaries. Get a grip, woman. It’s a drink.

    1. Brooke, and when the big companies do change their ways, the prices will change with it. Think Starbucks is expensive now, wait until the ingredients are all organic. $7 latte anyone? There are already places that serve organic, you can patronize them and everyone is happy.

      1. Paul, I’m not saying at all that Starbucks should change their milk to organic, or if they did, they could always do it optional for an additional cost (like they do for soy). What I do believe is that they should be up front about the ingredients in their drinks and people have a right to know which of these ingredients have been linked to certain cancers, hormone disruptors, and other health disorders. Many of these ingredients are banned in the EU and other parts of the world. T

      2. There is a local (to me) farm that sells organic, grass- fed cow milk and the price is actually at par or less expensive than the milk you get at the grocery store so the expensive argument is mostly moot. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive but supply and demand says that as long as people want to eat crap; crap will be the cheapest to eat…

    1. Maybe true for you, but some of my friends drink these fraps on almost a daily basis. Its people like them who need to see this!

    2. Don’t be a hater, Deb? LOL

      Is informing someone that they’re putting poison into their bodies being a hater? You can keep burying your head in the sand, but one day, people will realize that man wasn’t meant to eat all of the chemicals, and it will suddenly dawn on people where the cancers are coming from, not to mention the heart disease from sugar alone.

      People really need to start understanding this, instead of lobbing “Haters” at the people who bring things to light.

      If you don’t want to accept it, that’s fine. I’m not calling you any names for continuing to eat/drink the things you do. I’ve been doing the same as you for 51 years. In the last year I’ve changed. I lost 55 lbs. (so far) and I feel as though I could run a marathon.

      So, you can do what you wish. No one is trying to do any mind control. Please understand that what is being said here is for your information. Use it as you see fit.

      1. Valuable information! As a mother of 2 young adult daughters I sit here with my own homemade latte and dwell on their habits of relying on fast foods. It is articles like this that will hopefully bring light to the younger generation that you need to be aware what goes into your food today and that eating healthy is a priority.

  3. Under the Pestiside Residue section about the use of non- organic coffee. Does the US government allow the importation of food that contains pesticides that are BANNED here? That makes no sense.

  4. For all those cows, that like killing themselves slowly-have at it.
    For all those that did not know what the government is doing-glad you woke up.

    These people that are against knowing and caring- have at it. Keep chewing your infected grain and following the leader.

    I bet if someone had a knife up to their kids throat, as a parent you would do something. The chemicals, its basically the same thing but in slow tormenting spiral motion.

    The Food Babe is doing a wonderful job in finding our what is making us sick(er).

    As a nation, we are getting sick(er) and broke(r) in all aspect(s) of our live(s), SLOWLY!!!

    1. Quite well said Shelley!! Don’t be surprised at all though when “the herd”, in their herd mentality, get upset about being called cows.

      Remember what Morphius told Neo in “The Matrix”…….

      “You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it.”

      SO SO prophetic it’s almost painful to witness in real life, all around us, and at such alarming levels. It’s scarey enough to realize how many of the masses have no clue about how much and how often they’re lied to and deceived, but what’s flat out terrifying is having to realize just how many of them don’t WANT to know and will tell you so right to your face.

      I know fears have names, like fear of small spaces, heights, spiders, etc. but what do you call a fear of the truth?

      1. To both Jeff and Shelley: You give me hope for intelligent life left on earth. I’m shocked at the denial and defensiveness of those not ready to leave the system and wake up.

        You can’t blame them though. Parasites are becoming an epidemic because of the way we eat and our lowered immune systems. Everyone is full of them, and they make us incredibly angry by affecting our liver (center of emotions in Chinese medicine). I’ve noticed that internet comments have gotten so hateful lately… it’s the bugs! Parasites are the underlying cause for EVERY SINGLE DISEASE (sounds incredibly extreme, I thought so too until I saw what was in me) and are also the underlying cause for why the sheep are so angry 24/7 and why the world seems to be getting more violent and hostile.

        If you’re interested (which it seems like you would be, I try to tell everyone I see that has an open mind and realizes our medical/food system has been lying to us…) check out this lecture by Kerri Rivera. Her son had very, very severe autism and a diagnosis of mental retardation as well…. turns out autism is a full-on parasite infestation. Her son (along with 133 other children who are now CURED of autism) got jars among jars of worms out. Pounds of mucus filled with bacteria/viruses/parasites. One 17yr old boy with autism had a 40 inch rope worm come out of him. I started dabbling with parasite cleansing and sure enough…. hundreds of worms. I wrote a blog post about it on my website and ALL of my readers who have done it have sent me photos of what they got out – because it’s THAT shocking! It’s a CRIME that our medical institutions have never even informed us that we all have parasites! And yes, ALL of us!

        Anyway, this is totally off subject, I just wanted to put the info out there for you two since you are obviously awakened to the truth. Here is the link to Kerri Rivera’s lecture where she explains everything. It is a PRICELESS compilation of information that I hope the world will one day watch.

      2. Also to Jeff and Shelley and the writer:

        You guys are spot on! We are the consumers we have the power to change ingredients and change the prices of MANY things besides just food. People who do not care about this information or do not try to act upon it are lazy cows. Sorry to say it but it’s damn true.

        AND for the first comment about the article being too long…she is an amazing writer (I myself a journalist from Pace University) and if this article is too long for you then that is hilarious. People like you are why intelligence is going down the drain fast in America.

        I enjoyed the article great job!!

    2. As anyone with a first grader’s understanding of PR can tell you, you don’t win the hearts and minds of people to your cause by insulting them.

      Your insulting tone is a deterrent to what the Food Babe is trying to accomplish, which begs the question: is it more important to you personally to educate the general public, or more important to you personally to mock those who don’t understand or care? One is admirable, the other is flat-out pettiness and immaturity.

    3. I stopped reading after the first line, when you refer to people as “cows.”

      What kind of person does that? It’s nasty and isn’t helping your case…just FYI

  5. This article is just silly and rediculous. OF COURSE it is not healthy for you, its a sugary pumpkin spice latte! It has nothing worse for you in it than 90% of the other food items available to us. Its a treat, not a food staple. Unless your diet consists of just Starbucks lattes, you are going to live a nice long happy life. Might as well enjoy one every once and awhile, after all they are the best espresso drink known to man!! 🙂 xoxo #pumpkinspiceforlife

    1. Amanda,

      1. “It has nothing worse for you in it than 90% of the other food items available to us.”

      Exactly. That is the WHOLE POINT. Thank you for concisely pointing that out.

      2. “Unless your diet consists of just Starbucks lattes, you are going to live a nice long happy life.”

      As seen by the level of crazy insane Starbucks defense-bots that came out of the woodwork to defame this post and Vani in general, most Starbucks patrons’ diets DO pretty much consist of just Starbucks lattes (among other processed crap). Nice, long, happy life? Doubtful.

      3. “#pumpkinspiceforlife”

      More like #PumpkinSpiceTilDeath.

      Enjoy you’re steaming cup of lies and poison, every once IN A WHILE.

  6. Wow… didn’t realize how passionate people are about their Starbucks drinks. Just wish the general public were as passionate about the ingredients they consume.

  7. Wow, I will NOT be ordering my 2 per season Pumpkin Spice Lattes. I also go else where now for my favorite eggnog lattes where actual eggnog is used !! WHY oh WHY do people choose to eat healthy but choose unhealthy “snacks?!”

  8. Thank you so much for posting this. I used to love the PSL, but after reading this I will never be able to drink one.

  9. Starbucks is totally BLOWING SMOKE with the LAME excuse that their SUPPLIERS know and dictate their ingredients. Give me a break! Starbucks is so huge and powerful, when they say DANCE, their suppliers say WHEN and WHERE!

    If Starbucks isn’t being open about their ingredients, it’s not because they can’t. It’s because they don’t want to.

    And you should immediately assume it is for a reason that is NOT good for you!

    And that goes for any other large chain!

    Too bad so many people seem to really like chugging chemicals.

  10. Ok I get it. It’s bad for you as are many other things. Ever try speeding in your car and almost hit a guy? Ever have a steak other than grass fed (I’m sure you have if you’ve had beef in a restaurant)? America is about freedom. We have freedom of choice. If Starbucks wants to use not so good things in their drinks then don’t drink/have it. I mean really…a pumpkin spice latte. Pumpkins are thick. How would you expect any sort of natural or organic pumpkin flavoring in a beverage that is meant to have a hot chocolate consistency? I don’t care if people think I’m dumb for posting this; it’s my opinion and I’m entitled to it. I’ll leave you with this–how far does the rabbit hole go in regards to what we should and should not eat? I think you’ve taken one too many of the red pill IMO. Have an outstanding day.

  11. Wow… did you even think of walking into a Starbucks store and asking to see the ingredients label? SUPER EASY, and avoids all the crazy that you fell into.

    Did you know the computer you blog from emits radiation? Better head to your fall out shelter!

    1. To Rainy,
      Unfortunately it is not super easy, as you say, to get the ingredients list by walking into the store and asking. I have an allergy to Red Bell Peppers (strange, I know) and I tried asking qdoba if there are red peppers in their salsa, they could not tell me at the store and directed me to email their corporate hq, who refused to answer me about the red peppers (they provided an answer, it was that they were refusing to divulge the info). Sadly my only choice was to never eat there again for fear of an anaphylactic reaction.

  12. Well, I for one am happy to have people like Vani in this world who get to the bottom of what these greedy companies put in our foods and cosmetics. We need more people like her to help us with research and uncovering things that these corporations go to great lengths to hide from us! I would MUCH rather avoid all possible toxic ingredients NOW and save money from not having to pay for my cancer LATER! Save money and save my health…I can’t go wrong there! I thought I would miss my favorite Pumpkin Spice Latte, but now I am excited to move on and give more of my money to my local Natural Grocers store, which provides ingredients for everything since they have nothing to hide. Thanks again Vani for your amazing work and dedication!!

  13. Well, I for one am happy to have people like Vani in this world who get to the bottom of what these greedy companies put in our foods and cosmetics. We need more people like her to help us with research and uncovering things that these corporations go to great lengths to hide from us! I would MUCH rather avoid all possible toxic ingredients NOW and save money from not having to pay from my cancer LATER! Save money and save my health…I can’t go wrong there! I thought I would miss my favorite Pumpkin Spice Latte, but now I am excited to move on and give my money to my local Natural Grocers, which provides ingredients for everything since they have nothing to hide. Thanks again Vani for your amazing work and dedication!!

  14. Here is an easy all-natural ingredients recipe for pumpkin spice syrup from my food blog

    1 ½ Cup of Water
    1 ½ Cup of Sugar
    4 Cinnamon Sticks
    1 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
    ½ tsp. Ground Ginger
    ½ tsp. Ground Cloves
    ¼ Pumpkin Puree

    1. Dissolve sugar in hot water over medium heat.
    2. Add cinnamon sticks, spices and pumpkin puree. Cook down until mixture has reached syrup texture.
    3. Remove cinnamon sticks. Strain syrup. Keep at room temperature.

  15. Why in the world are you freaking out about this and demanding safer ingredients? If you aren’t comfortable with what is put in the coffee, then don’t drink it. A toxic dose of sugar? A soda has more than that, and you also have the option of not drinking that. Either stop drinking it, or make your own alternative. Just stop complaining.

    1. Jim,

      She is NOT “complaining” that her favorite drink turned out to be (surprise!) poison like the rest of the GMOStarbucks Sheep commenting on this investigation. She makes it very clear in the first line of the article that she NEVER consumes products from this chemical corporation!

      Vani is INVESTIGATING, and then compiling pertinent information so people like YOU can read it and then apparently crap all over it.

      This is all about spreading information, because without it, the general population is completely in the dark. Corporations like Starbucks are actively hiding serious health information, and the population is chugging their chem-slush blindly.

      The FDA, and the government in general, is completely inept at providing any kind of up-to-date or accurate information regarding consumables, and they use massive corporations’ CEOs and their affiliated lobbyists as interchangeable staff pieces in the big machine. The ex-head of Monsanto (largest GMO producer) heads the FDA. In the words of John Oliver, that is essentially leaving your baby in the care of a DINGO.

      Just so you are aware, these investigations, at their core, are meant to highlight shady policies, practices, regulations and corporations’ trustworthiness in general. If you would like me to put that in layman’s terms for you:

      Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

      If you would like to be shamed by allowing yourself to be fooled by Starbucks, go right ahead – that’s your choice.

      If you would like to continue dumping your word-vomit all over a legitimate information source: JUST STOP TALKING.

      1. She’s a health nut and her favorite drink is a latte? I doubt that. This is all supposedly about getting “the body you want” and finding out what is really healthy for you. If anyone out there thinks a latte or anything else of that nature is healthy or is even an option on the road to obtaining a decent body, then maybe they should drink a few more and save us all the trouble…

      2. In the first line of my reply, I said she made it clear she NEVER consumes Starbucks drinks. I said she was NOT complaining about “losing her favorite drink” like all the other sheep on here.

        Also, a latte means coffee and milk. That’s it. There are a ton of ways to make a healthy homemade latte (recipes in the article), and it won’t be chock full of harmful additives, poisons and chemicals with which Starbucks and every other major food producer is currently experimenting on the general population.

        And if you think this information is about “obtaining a decent body,” you’re sorely mistaken. It’s about long term health – becoming healthy from the inside out. And it begins with what you put in your body.

        Inform yourself, or save US all the trouble of having to read your uneducated and irrelevant comments.

      3. I’m not surprised that there are harmful products in a processed food item like this. But I am saddened and concerned by how hard it is just to make an informed decision about what we eat and drink. I appreciate those like the Food Babe who go the extra mile to get solid information out in the public realm. Keep up the good work. Thanks!

    2. It’s called spreading awareness. Many people that go to Starbucks have no idea that they are being poisoned. Vani your doing a great job. Keep spreading the truth and hopefully Starbucks will remove these poisonous ingredients soon.

  16. It’s so crazy to me that people would defend a big company using nasty ingredients. Keep up the good work, Food Babe. There are plenty of us out there who appreciate your research and stand with you as you find ways to be healthier. What we put in our bodies matters; what big companies tell us about their products matters. We all have a right to consume whatever we please, but companies should be transparent and consumers have a right to NOT consume unnatural ingredients. Now excuse me while I make myself a homemade organic Pumpkin Spice Latte!

  17. Did you ever think Starbucks might not want to divulge the ingredients to their most popular drink out of fear that someone might steal it and make their own?
    It is great business to keep popular things like the PSL under wraps.

  18. Let’s be honest. Anyone ordering something like this from starbucks is looking to indulge and doesn’t care about their health. This article is nothing but hot air.

  19. I’m sure there are lots of awful things in the latte, but it’s called “pumpkin spice” not “pumpkin”. You can go to the grocery store and buy a “pumpkin spice” mix made of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg (among other possible spice variations.) I don’t think the name is misleading, and I wouldn’t expect pumpkin in my latte. Making this a “fact” in your little chart makes the other information suspicious to me.

    1. I agree with you it is pumpkin spice. I actually couldn’t think of anything worse than putting pumpkin in my coffee.

      1. Congrats to Ashley and Michelle and the rest of the StarbucksSheep for choosing to focus on literally the most insignificant part about this investigation.

        I guess that just proves the point that you actually can’t refute ANY of the other information in the investigation, so you have to resort to silly semantic right-fighting about whether she said “pumpkin” or “pumpkin spice.”

        What a waste of thoughts. Chug some more chem-slush.

  20. The new FDA study came out… Guess what? as of August 22, 2014 – The FDA still has “no reason to believe” that 4-MEI from caramel colors pose a health risk a

    1. I can’t tell if you are trying to prove that the FDA STILL has their head in the sand or if you are trying to defend caramel coloring….

      Please clarify.

  21. I want to say thank you for telling us about this ! It may be a treat to many and I along with many
    I am sure are surprised at the truth .. I want to know what I am drinking /eating and I think it’s important that we know being that there are so many things that will make us not feel to good and question what was it !
    I don’t understand how enlightening ourselves to the truth is wrong ? If you want to drink things that will catch up with you one day , go ahead .. It’s things like this that make us more aware ! Thank you food babe !

  22. The foodbabe agenda is not to educate the public about their diet, it’s about selling organic products in which the publisher has a monetary self-interest. Wake up people!

    1. You cannot be serious with this comment.

      The products she refers to or highlights on her webpage are provided as the ALTERNATIVE options to the chemical junk she exposes!

      She is not pushing products, she is giving viable solutions for when yet another investigation knocks a terrible product or company off the “acceptable” list.

      If she didn’t give you this plethora of natural, organic, safe and healthy alternatives, I’m sure YOU and the rest of the sheep would be crying about only having the issues raised not being handed free solutions.

      By the way, good job turning the negative “Corporate America” business model on the very grassroots truth campaign trying to fight it.

      Are you really so uneducated that you were able to contradict yourself with a one line statement? WAKE UP KATE.

  23. You do know what pumpkin SPICE is? They have never claimed it was supposed to include actual pumpkins. There are tons of pumpkin SPICE dishes, that include the tradition spices that go into fall holiday drinks.

    I have no problem with the complains about the caramel. Or letting people know how much sugar is in it. But complaining that there is no pumpkin is just absolutely ridiculous.

  24. I love reading information on food and what is put into them it really makes you think the next time you buy something. That’s why I read this article. I love PSL and knew it was not a healthy drink but when put into detail it makes me more aware of what I’m actually comsuming. I’m not going to lie though I may still order one this year since it’s something I do look forward to drinking around the holidays. I would love to see some better options and the unnessary ingredients taken out. Something I’m going have to say is that when reading some of these comments I hear people being ugly and hateful to one another for having their own opinion on the matter. This is a comment section and a conversation. Calling people ignorant, uneducated, worthless and so on. Today I comment pretty much the same thing I just wrote on the FB comments. I then saw a comment referring to mine about trying to justified drinking SB and said people spend money on things why not spend money on your health because I mentioned organic food are pricey. This person also was holding a half drank diet coke bottle in their hands on their profile picture. I’m not trying to be ugly but we can’t force people eat a certain way or not to drink something. All we can do is educate and inform. The decision is on them. There is no reason to be so hateful to one another over coffee.. There is so much more to life. Thank you Vani for informing us.

    1. Thank you. I work for Starbucks and have my own opinions, good or otherwise, about my company… I don’t even drink most of our drinks because this is my choice; however, I’m a little disturbed by this Heather person who keeps calling everyone who likes this drink or doesn’t seem to care about the ingredients, etc. a “StarbucksSheep.”

      It’s just kinda insulting and mean… every person is in their own stage of learning, growth and development within their souls. Not everyone is in the same place as one another in terms of life, thinking, etc. I know it’s hard to feel empathy in our world as it is, but if you understand this simple fact, that everyone is in a different stage of development, then there should be no need to be so condescending towards someone else for having an opinion, even if it is not true, etc.

      I appreciate the article… It’s hard for us even as partners to find ingredients. I do think the ingredients are listed on the pumpkin spice bottle, however, so we should be able to read them off the label for you.

      I can attest to how upset people get over their coffee, but I do enjoy making people smile once in a while, and if a treat brightens their day for that moment, then that feels really nice. Starbucks will work on this, I’m sure. They care for their customers and partners. Have faith that as more people dig into the truth, more people will learn. It takes time. Nothing can happen with a snap of the fingers. If the world worked like this, there is more things I would change than the PSL, trust me.

      Thank you for the article. 🙂

  25. I like the E.T. special at Barnes and Noble…a tall latte, half the syrup (white mocha:), 2% low fat milk with extra whip and caramel and chocolate drizzle…not sure about the ingredients, except I see them using milk, syrup and espresso mainly. White chocolate and pumpkin would be tasty too.

  26. Wow! This is one incredible woman. She really is The Food “Babe”. She’s gorgeous and smart as anyone. Whoever has her is luckier than most.

  27. The sad truth is, The Food Babe shouldn’t have to do this. But, “they” don’t care. “They” push canned, boxed and packaged food on us to control us by keeping us sick with the many poisons that are in those products. The worst part is we can’t get away from it. Even fresh food is genetically modified. Does anyone know exactly what foods are safe, if any?

    There are poisons in food, in water and in the air. It’s everywhere. But business works on supply and demand. If “we” don’t buy those products and demand change, things will change. The best thing we can do is what Paul said, “Pray without ceasing.”

  28. I hate to break it to you but the reason nobody knows is cause people don’t ask. I actually just had a customer ask if there was red food dye in there so we found the pumpkin spice container and showed her all the ingredients. Nobody ever asks what’s in a caramel frappuccino but boy do they love adding ridiculous amounts of caramel sauce in there anyway. Most people just don’t care what they’re eating or drinking. They just care it tastes good and it isn’t gonna kill them. But if anybody really wants to know what’s in their drink, all they have to do is ask or find nutritional information online.

  29. First of all, every company has its transparency issues, and it can be said as a fact that no company wants to expose the ingredients of the foods the serve to customers. This applies with Starbucks, and not only Starbucks, especially not on a single drink. Not only that, this insignificant point is repeated over and over as if there is nothing better to talk about.

    The first image is quite funny to read:

    Let’s skip the caramel coloring for a second
    -Is it really a surprise that there are no real pumpkin ingredients? (Everything is put for show, with peach flavoured candy made with apple juice)
    -Monsanto Milk is EVERYWHERE and it’s being bought and sold all across america. People drink that everyday, why not write this article on Monsanto instead? That’s like saying an innocent person is a murder because the person touched the murderer’s gun.
    -There is “toxic” amounts of sugar in pop, candy, ketchup…
    -also, EVERYTHING also contains Natural and Artificial flavours (or preservatives) : yo ucannot bash on a specific starbucks drink for something that is probably found on the labels of 90% of all things found in a grocery store
    -AND PESTICIDE RESIDUE! LOL! Did they mention anywhere that their coffee was organic??? SO WHAT DOES it MAY contain pesticides HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING??? Again, ALMOST EVERYTHING has pesticides in it. it seems like you just needed to fill space
    -Also no one gives a DAMN if it’s vegan or not.

    The arguments against caramel coloring are seemingly very legitimate, but there are some things need to be pointed out:
    Again, there is the addition of useless, utterly trash points, like the fact that it does not have nutritional value, or that it is used in naturally brown foods. The coffee is not supposed to be nutritious. And where was its use of concern to a starbucks drink? It is not professional to stray from the topic at hand.


    Monsanto, GMO foods, Natural/Artificial Flavours, Coloring (taking up well over half of your arguments) …. they are everywhere, in addition, are not specifically applied to a certain kind of starbucks drink; thus breaking your arguments.

    Lots of useless points and repetitive comments make this more of an unprofessional fictitious read than a legitimate argument against the buying of a coffee drink.


  30. Surely this article is about informing the masses? Vani is not saying all should stop drinking them but is informing those who want to know so they can make an informed decision whether to or not. If you want to continue drinking them then go ahead no one is stopping you but to those who want this information it is there for them and they can decide whether or not to carry on drinking them. I for one am glad of this information in terms of some of the ingredients listed as there are some I know I must avoid for health reasons so having this is useful, of course there are going to be other organisations and other drinks that are the same but now I have one I can be more wary of so thankyou for this Vani.

  31. I only read through the first page, but anyone who was expecting actual pumpkin in the latte really doesn’t get it. It’s “Pumpkin Spice”, not pumpkin. ie, the spices you would put in, say, a pumpkin pie. As well, there ain’t no pumpkin in the home made version either. Pumpkin spice you buy from the store doesn’t have any pumpkin either, it’s the SPICES used in pumpkin pie.

      1. Oops. Sorry! I didn’t mean to reply to you, just to comment in general. 🙂

      2. Oops. Sorry! I didn’t mean to reply to you, just to comment in general. 🙂

  32. It’s a good little recipe. It’s simple and uses better sweeteners, BUT it still doesn’t contain actual pumpkin, canned or otherwise. It just calls for the pumpkin SPICES, which is okay, but you need to read the name of the beverage as Pumpkin SPICE, not pumpkin AND spice. If it’s got actual pumpkin in it, it should be called a Spiced Pumpkin Latte or something like that.
    Having said that, you just need to add a tablespoon of organic pumpkin puree to your coffee as well 🙂

    1. Here is a non caffeine drink that I threw together a couple of years ago at thanksgiving time. Pumpkin (fresh flesh preferred, some use canned), vanilla protein powder (or pre-made shake), and pumpkin spice. Throw it all in the blender and it’s like pumpkin pie. Espresso could easily be incorporated.

  33. Oh! One thing I forgot to mention is that if you only want the spices, try adding them to your coffee grounds and then brewing your coffee. It’s a great way to infuse the spices into the flavor of your coffee and you don’t get spice settlement at the bottom of your mug 😉

  34. Sugary beverages are a personal choice, perhaps your concerns about toxic ingredients should be directed at tap water and at the air we breathe since both of these necessary components of our existence are routinely contaminated far beyond what is considered to be healthful.

  35. Hi Vani,

    I know that vaccinations do not come under your study of food products but I think your readers will be interested to know that there is a whistleblower at the CDC who is saying that a 2004 study showed that there was incorrect information given, that there is a connection between autism and vaccines and that black boys are more susceptible. The whistleblower was one of the authors.

    The major media is not reporting this but information can be found at and at There is also a petition to have the paper retracted and can be found at ageofautism in the article Having Trouble with CDC Whistleblower. It is a petition.

    I hope you see this posting. I don’t use Facebook or Twitter.

  36. I have been a Starbucks drinker since I was about 16. I drank Starbucks several days a week after I turned 18 and had my Gold card and everything. I’m 23 now and since January I have been experiencing strange chest pain and a weird feeling in my stomach after I drink Starbucks cold beverages. Something in their coffee (I think it’s the syrup, especially the light syrup) makes me feel sluggish and puffy.” I’m not a Starbucks hater, but drinking less has helped. I’m pointing this out in case someone has had similar symptoms and cannot figure out why.

  37. Hi! That was super-interesting… but I noticed that in Switzerland, Starbucks seems to use the local Swiss milk. Same in Germany – they seem to use the local German milk.

  38. first, I am very much for ingredient transparency and knowing what I’m putting into my body, so thank you for this post. second, I wanted to point out a little issue – the name “pumpkin spice” does NOT imply that it contains pumpkin, but rather that it contains pumpkin spice – which it does. that being said, the rest of the article is very informative – thank you for going to the work of all that research so that those of us who choose to be informed can be!

  39. Lets be honest here for one sec, if you’re buying ANYTHING from starbucks or anywhere else you can’t expect to drink or eat healthy. I have an espresso machine at home and more syrups than costco, but when it comes to having a PSL in the fall I’m at starbucks. People refuse to recognize that they have all the power here no one forces you to drink or eat starbucks and yes its important to know what you’re putting in your body, but the only sure way to know that is to do it yourself. Sorry but this article is erelevant.

  40. First off.. Vani, thank you again for investigating and making your research and findings public!.. Enough of the lying!!
    Second, for all of you out there that seem to be so excited about Starbucks, aren’t you excited that someone is able to disclose what’s inside that beverage? Shouldn’t you be thankful?
    Third, I just realized how many lazy people are out there since you can’t even make a coffee at home and prefer buying it at Starbucks for $5.. If you really have to have a coffee (I don’t drink it anymore… it’s too acidic for the body!), then make it at home.. Start cooking more at home and less buying processed food that has so many bad ingredients for you!..

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