Pumpkin Spice Latte: get the facts

Fall on campus is upon us and that means the return of Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes (PSL). This time, the coffee giant says it has added something new: real pumpkin.

After receiving negative feedback about the presence of chemical compound 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI) in the beverage’s caramel colouring, Starbucks director of espresso and brewed coffee Peter Dukes announced in August that the PSL would contain real pumpkin this fall season. He also wrote that Starbucks would no longer use caramel colouring in the drink.

The PSL even got its own basic Twitter handle:

The new pumpkin-endowed sauce they’ll use contains the following ingredients:

  • Sugar
  • Condensed skim milk
  • Pumpkin puree
  • Contains two per cent or less fruit and vegetable juice for colour
  • Natural flavours
  • Annato (colour)
  • Potassium sorbate (salt preservative)

Despite concerns arising around 4-MEI’s link to cancer, Health Canada and the US Food and Drug Administration say it’s safe to use and consume at levels expected in cooking processes. It should be noted that 4-MEI forms during cooking and isn’t an additive.

Now that caramel colouring will no longer be used in the PSL, we visited the Starbucks official website for nutritional information about their seasonal beverage offering. Here’s what we found, conveniently presented in these infographics:


“Tall” is the second smallest size. Let’s ramp it up to the largest size – “venti”.


There you have it, folks. Of course, these are fully-loaded drinks. If  you’re watching calories but want a taste of autumn, this combination will meet you halfway.


Happy studies!

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