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Starbucks to stop using 'crushed bug dye' in drinks

Starbucks has announced it will stop using cochineal extract, a red dye made from tiny beetles. Starbucks items containing the crushed bug dye will be reformulated by the end of June.

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A Starbucks Coffee store on the Embarcadero in San Francisco is shown earlier this month. Starbucks has announced that it will stop using a common red dye derived from crushed beetles in its drinks, amid public outcry.

Eric Risberg/AP

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Starbucks Corp. says it will stop using a red dye in its drinks that is derived from crushed bugs.

The Seattle-based coffee chain said in a blog post on its website Thursday that it made the decision to reformulate its drinks after feedback from consumers prompted a "thorough" evaluation.

The company says it will swap out cochineal extract, which is made from the juice of a tiny beetle, and instead use lycopene, a tomato-based extract.

Cochineal dye is widely used in foods and cosmetics products such as lipstick, yogurt and shampoo. Starbucks had used the coloring in its strawberry flavored mixed drinks and foods like the raspberry swirl cake and red velvet whoopie pie.

The company says the items will be reformulated by the end of June.

An online petition on Change.org asking the chain to stop using the bug-based dye had collected more than 6,000 signatures. The petition was started by a South Carolina woman who wanted to inform consumers that the chain's strawberry drinks weren't vegan-friendly.

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