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

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NEW YORK - 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.

Copyright Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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