The Ugly Truth About Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte


Before you grab that ever-so-tempting Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte on your way to work, you might be alarmed to know what’s in it…and, well, what’s not.

Since it is packed with artificial ingredients, I’ll start with what’s not found in the beverage. There’s no pumpkin in a “Pumpkin Spice Latte.” Isn’t it misleading to name a beverage after a nutritious and delicious food that doesn’t even make an appearance? It’s possible that there is pumpkin flavor, but no actual pumpkin. That’s like adding apple flavor instead of apples to apple pie.

And that’s just the beginning. A grande-sized Pumpkin Spice Latte contains a whopping 49 grams of sugar! That’s a lot for a single day, never mind a single beverage. It also contains a massive 380 calories and 13 grams of fat, 8 of which are saturated fat.  While all of that is less than impressive it’s the artificial ingredients and preservatives that really concern me.

According to Starbucks’ customer service department, here’s a list of ingredients found in a Pumpkin Spice Latte:

Sugar—No real surprise there except that it contains more sugar than a can of Coke (39 grams vs. 49 for the latte).

Condensed non-fat milk and Sweetened condensed non-fat milk—Allergy alert:  even if you order a milk substitute like soy milk for your Pumpkin Spice Latte you’ll be drinking some dairy products. So be aware if you have an allergy.

Annatto E160B color—While derived from natural sources, annatto can cause some adverse reactions, including skin, gastrointestinal, airway, and central nervous system reactions. The journal Annals of Allergy reports on a case of a severe anaphylactic allergic reaction to annatto. It is also reported to severely lower blood pressure. Added for color to an otherwise dark brown coffee, it really serves no purpose.

Natural and artificial flavors– This is a whole category of possible ingredients, none of which are specified and are usually classified as trade secrets.  However both natural and artificial flavors typically contain the toxin monosodium glutamate (MSG) which is frequently used in laboratories to create obese animals for testing.  Here’s an example of this practice. And another.

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