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Starbucks squashes use of beetle juice

April 19, 2012 at 6:58 PM

SEATTLE, April 19 (UPI) -- U.S. coffee giant Starbucks said Thursday it will replace cochineal beetles with tomato extract to color its strawberry frappuccinos and other items.

Starbucks' U.S. President Cliff Burrows made the announcement less than two weeks after the company was criticized by vegan groups for using insects to color its products, USA Today reported.

"We fell short of your expectations," Burrows said in a statement on the company's Web site. "We are reformulating the affected products to assure the highest quality possible."

Lycopene, a natural, tomato-based extract, will be used in the Strawberry & Creme Frappuccino and Strawberry Banana Smoothie at all stores by the end of June, Burrows said.

Starbucks started using the insects in January to move away from artificial colors but failed to anticipate the vegan backlash.

"Through this move, Starbucks has shown that it cares about the opinions of its consumers," said Daelyn Fortney, the managing editor of ThisDishisVeg.com, who first complained about the beetles.

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