1. the completely false assertion, copped from an entomologist, that the only viable alternative to cochineal is a petroleum-based food dye.
2. the fact that the production of cochineal provides income in impoverished areas
3. that the product in which the colorant is used is "not food" - i.e. unhealthy.
So let's look at the ways this is nonsense.
1. The fact that Starbucks made the change because they wanted to get away from artificial dyes automatically takes Red 40 out of the equation. You therefore cannot defend the change by saying it's better than Red 40 because the entire point was to choose a natural alternative to Red 40. As stated in the petition that moved Starbucks to reconsider their use of cochineal,
While it’s commendable to move away from artificial ingredients, there are other natural means to achieve the red coloring. Red beet, black carrot, purple sweet potato and paprika are all-natural alternatives to artificial dyes and safe for those with dietary restrictions. (And those who don’t want crushed bugs in their designer drink.)
If you're going to choose a natural alternative to Red 40, you don't choose the one with the highest potential for causing severe allergies, and which violates vegetarian, vegan, and possibly Kosher guidelines without telling your clientele.
2. Does cochineal provide income to impoverished areas? So would beet farming.
Yes, I'm being glib, but to suggest that the only solution to poverty is crushing bugs is spurious reasoning. Loss of jobs is propaganda often used against veganism, but food and dyes still need to be produced. We only want to see them produced from non-animal ingredients.
3. I am so tired of the 'throw the baby out with the bathwater' approach. This is an absurd justification. Because other ingredients aren't healthy, we should not care about one that can cause severe allergic reactions and violates the ethics of 10% of the US population (vegetarians and vegans) being introduced with no warning?
So as if it wasn't bad enough that Jess Zimmerman's article was offensive and rude, it's also complete bunk.