Coffee with what?

Elephant excrement claims about Starbucks coffee reflect the new media landscape

Starbucks admits using some elephant products in its coffee, but not excrement. Brent Lewin / Bloomberg
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We can all rest easier with the knowledge that food safety authorities have debunked an urban myth that elephant excrement is an ingredient of Starbucks coffee. Dubai Municipality took the step of testing the coffee to see if excrement – presumably of any kind – might be present. It wasn't, although Starbucks also revealed that elephant enzymes are used in some of its products – albeit none that are imported here – which might explain why such a preposterous tale was able to gain some degree of traction.

This reflects the much broader spectrum of opinions that followed the tectonic shift in information delivery away from having a few traditional sources, such as this newspaper, towards the free-for-all of social media. To liken this to a family, instead of the news being gathered, verified and disseminated solely by a trusted elder, we now also hear from our unhinged cousin who wears a tinfoil hat. Maybe we need to be more careful about to whom we listen?