As the summer starts to wind down and the days begin to get just a little bit shorter, Pumpkin Spice Lattes are just around the corner. This seasonal treat has a cult like following, with over 200 million of them sold to date! Starbucks recently announced it would start offering the drink extra early this year, to feed the frenzy. I’ve never actually had one, (really!) so I am interested in what makes this so special.
Food Babe, an investigative food blogger was interested too, and what she uncovered may change your mind about ordering another one!
Starbucks defines the drink as “[made of] pumpkin and traditional fall spice flavors, combined with espresso and steamed milk, topped with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice.”
What Food Babe discovered, is that while it contains way more ingredients than anticipated, it doesn’t contain any pumpkin.
The base of the drink is espresso; just coffee beans and water. No surprise there.
Next up on the list: pumpkin spice flavored sauce. Operative word: flavored. Contents:
sugar( and lots of it,) non-fat condensed milk, high fructose corn syrup, annatto ( for color), natural and artificial flavors, caramel color(class IV), salt and potassium sorbate.
Annatto is derived from a seed. It is considered safe, but can possibly effect blood sugar levels in diabetics.
Class IV caramel color is a laboratory creation, made by reacting corn sugar with ammonia and sulfites under high pressure and temperature, creating a by-product that has been linked to cancer, even in small doses, and is under investigation by the FDA. Do you really want to risk your life to make sure the syrup in your latte is brown?
Potassium sorbate is a preservative made from the salt of sorbic acid. Although it has been found to be toxic to human DNA cells, the World Health Organization has deemed it safe in small quantities.
The “latte” part is made from steamed milk. The dairy option uses what is affectionately referred to as “Monsanto Milk”, which comes from cows raised with antibiotics, and fed GMO corn, soy and cottonseed.
While vegans and lactose intolerant can order a soy milk option, it is most likely that they won’t be informed that there is milk in the pumpkin sauce. Oops!
The whipped cream topping contains cream, and vanilla syrup which is made from more sugar, natural flavors, potassium sorbate, citric acid, and caramel color class IV.
Finish it off by sprinkling it with pumpkin spice topping, containing cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove and sulfites, another potentially dangerous food substance.
A non-fat grande pumpkin spice latte contains 50 grams of sugar and 330 calories, among other things, none of which are actually pumpkin. And while the $4.55 price tag may seem steep, the health risks are even more staggering.
For those who crave the drink, no worries. You can make a healthy version of it at home!
Mix a shot of espresso with warm or steamed milk, a teaspoon of honey or pure maple syrup ( no Aunt Jemima’s please!) and a healthy sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.
To read Food Babe’s post in it’s entirety, click HERE.
photos: Glasshouse Images
UPDATE: Starbucks has issued a statement regarding the ingredients in their popular drink:
“The standard recipe for Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte at company-operated and licensed stores does not contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), and is sweetened with sugar. We are actively looking at phasing out caramel coloring. In any instances where it is used in our beverages, the level is well below the No Significant Risk Level (NSRL) and safe to consume.
As a company, we take pride in providing full ingredient transparency to our customers so they can make whatever choice is right for them on their beverage selection. The high level of personalization of Starbucks beverages available allows customers to enjoy a unique Starbucks Experience and tailor their drink to match their own personal taste preferences – including the selection from a variety of fresh dairy selections and soy milk, a combination of syrups, and coffee/espresso options and toppings. If customers have questions about any of the items offered in our stores, they can ask their barista for a list of ingredients. We’re also working on listing core beverage recipes online via Starbucks.com and hope to have an update in the near future.”