MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Caribou Coffee is cleaning up its drink menu, banning a laundry list of artificial colors, dyes, preservatives and other ingredients – from high-fructose corn syrup to MSG – from entering the company’s cups.

The Brooklyn Center-based business pledged this month a commitment to making “clean label” beverages, meaning that its drinks won’t contain artificial ingredients or chemicals that consumers don’t recognize. While there is no U.S. standard for clean label products (as there is for organic ones), it is a growing trend for food-makers.

Caribou says it is the first national coffee chain to offer a clean label drink menu.

Currently, most of its drinks fall under the designation, Caribou says. Exceptions include its chai tea latte, drinks made with sugar-free chocolate syrup and a few of the drink toppings. By next year, however, the company aims to have a 100-percent clean label drink menu.

As for the muffins, cookies and sandwiches in the bakery case, changes to those will come in time, the company says, adding that it’s worked consistently over the years to offer customers only quality ingredients.

For example, Caribou became in 2012 the only national coffeehouse to source 100 percent of its beans from Rainforest Alliance certified farms. Last year, the company rolled out the use of real vanilla and real caramel, and before that it introduced real chocolate.

The push for more natural ingredients and simpler labels is a growing trend as food-makes are under increased scrutiny from consumers. On its website, Caribou has a list of the dozens of ingredients it’s banning from its menu. They include MSG, aspartame, fat substitutes and added nitrates.


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