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Starbucks to be bug-free by June: What's really in that red dye you've been drinking this whole time

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That strawberry-flavored beverage doesn't seem so sweet when you think about what makes it red.  Photo by Ben Adams/Flickr
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Cochineal extract is made from the crushed up bodies of female Dactylopius coccus Costa. Red Orbit
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Vegans and squeamish souls rejoice: Starbucks promises that its products will be completely bug free by late June. 

Oh yes, didn't you know? The company, which has been shifting toward more "natural" additives, made a quiet retreat from artificial red dye in its strawberry sauce earlier this year. 

But according to the ingredient list, the new sauce, which is used in the Starbucks Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino and Strawberry Smoothie, includes "cochineal extract" — a colorant made from the dried crushed bodies of the female Dactylopius coccus Costa — rendering the products non-vegan, highly allergenic, non-kosher and haram.

Cochineal extract was also a new ingredient in some of Starbucks' food offerings: The Raspberry Swirl Cake, the Birthday Cake Pop, the Mini Donut with pink icing and the Red Velvet Whoopie Pie. 

A great deal of push back made the company reconsider the bugs as a natural alternative. On Thursday, Starbucks president Cliff Burrows announced that the company will begin the switch over to tomato-based, significantly-less-controversial lycopene extract.

So, come June, you can continue to enjoy those sweet strawberry products without any hidden bugs. 

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