Business, Economics and Jobs

Starbucks ends use of red dye from lady bugs to color drinks


attends the Bespoken Presentation Fall 2011 with Starbucks Frappuccino during Mercedes-Benz fashion week at Chelsea Piers - Pier 59 Studio 10 on February 12, 2011 in New York City.


Donald Bowers

Starbucks said Thursday that it will stop using a red dye in its drinks and pastries that is derived from crushed insects.

The world's largest coffee retailer said that it will phase out the use of the controversial cochineal extract, made from the dried remains of beetles after public outcry and an online campaign against its use.

The controversy began after a vegan barista noticed the company used the dye in its strawberry frappucinos, banana smoothies, red velvet cupcakes and other items.

An online petition was created by vegan patrons against the use of the natural dye on, a social action website.

Fox News said that Starbucks had begun using the ingredient in January to steer away from artificial ingredients to more natural ones.

The company said that it would instead use lycopene, a tomato-based extract, according to USA Today.

"We fell short of your expectations," said Starbucks' US president, Cliff Burrows, in a statement on Thursday.

"We are reformulating the affected products to assure the highest quality possible."

Cochineal extract has no safety or quality issues, according to the US Food and Drug Administration.

It is a widely used dye for food coloring in the US and around the world.

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