Kraft Responds to Concerns About Artificial Food Dyes With List of Options
Food manufacturing giant Kraft has responded to consumer requests to remove artificial dyes from its Macaroni & Cheese products, but is it the response we were hoping for?
On April 1st, food activists Vani Hari (aka Food Babe) and Lisa Leake (author of 100 Days of Real Food) were invited to Kraft’s Chicago headquarters to discuss the removal of artificial dyes, particularly Yellows #5 and #6, from foods marketed to kids including the popular and iconic Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. The dyes, while approved for use in the US by the Food and Drug Administration, have been linked to adverse effects such as hyperactivity. In fact, the same products sold in the UK are made with natural food colorings such as beta-carotene and paprika.
Food dyes are used in foods, not for any nutritional reason, but to make the food appear more attractive. Studies have shown that food made more appealing to the eye encourage consumers to purchase certain products over others. In fact, the Journal of Marketing reported that in some cases, foods not enhanced with certain expected colors are actually shunned by consumers despite no other changes made to taste, smell or texture.
Kids are particularly swayed by colorful foods covered with pictures of their favorite characters. "Right now, it's the flashy, highly marketed, 'fun,' high-sugar and high-fat foods that are the easy choice,” says Kim Raine of the University of Alberta. “Kids see them and want them, and parents' efforts to encourage their kids to eat a healthy diet are undermined."
So what does Kraft have to say about the latest effort to remove the potentially unhealthy ingredients from Mac N Cheese? "The safety and quality of our products is our highest priority and we take consumer concerns very seriously," a Kraft spokeswoman said in a statement. "We carefully follow the laws and regulations in the countries where our products are sold."
The company also provided a list of 14 varieties of Mac N Cheese that use natural coloring or no coloring at all. These include:
• KRAFT Mac & Cheese Organic White Cheddar
• KRAFT Mac & Cheese Organic Cheddar
• KRAFT Mac & Cheese White Cheddar
• KRAFT Mac & Cheese Alfredo
• KRAFT Mac & Cheese Deluxe Original Cheddar
• KRAFT Mac & Cheese Deluxe Four Cheese
• KRAFT Mac & Cheese Deluxe Sharp Cheddar
• KRAFT Mac & Cheese Homestyle Creamy Parmesan Alfredo
• KRAFT Mac & Cheese Homestyle Sharp Cheddar and Bacon
• KRAFT Mac & Cheese Homestyle Classic Cheddar
• KRAFT Mac & Cheese Homestyle Hearty Four Cheese
• KRAFT Mac & Cheese Homestyle Bowl Southwest Tortilla
• KRAFT Mac & Cheese Homestyle Bowl Creamy Broccoli with White Cheddar
• KRAFT Mac & Cheese Cup Alfredo
However, is providing this list enough? After all, there are still 30 or more Mac & Cheese flavors that DO contain artificial dyes, and those are the ones our kids ask for in the grocery store. For example, included in this list is not a “SpongeBob Organic,” points out Ms. Hari. “They’re getting away with using cheaper ingredients in children’s foods.”
In addition, the more specialty products listed above are harder to find and cost more than the original Mac N Cheese products. While an 8-ounce package of the original product was $1.29 Friday at Harris Teeter, a 6-ounce package of the organic version was $2.19. The British version was the equivalent of $1.38 on Amazon/UK, notes The Charlotte Observer.
What do you think? If two products have virtually no difference in taste (as Hari and Leake have proven in taste tests), but one has natural ingredients versus artificial dyes and flavorings, which are you more likely to choose? If you would like for Kraft to follow the same stricter guidelines that it follows for its overseas products with natural ingredients, let your voice be heard:
1. Sign and SHARE our petition at change.org/kraftyellow
2. Contact Kraft headquarters to tell them how you feel about their response. You can call their general lines 800-323-0768 or 847-646-2000 or 800-431-1001 or one of the branding managers at 847.646.5734
3. Tell them how you feel on their FB wall athttps://www.facebook.com/kraftmacaroniandcheese orhttps://www.facebook.com/KraftFoods
4. Send them a tweet at @kraftfoods or @kraftmacncheese
5. Or email them at [email protected],[email protected], [email protected],[email protected], [email protected],
6. Vote with your dollars by choosing macaroni and cheese and other products from brands that do not use artificial dyes.
LL Garber Jr et al. “The Effects of Food Color on Perceived Flavor” Journal of Marketing, Fall 2000
Chicago Tribune, “Kraft served in mac ‘n’ cheese fight, April 1 2013
Charlotte Observer, 2 Charlotte bloggers harness national attention with Kraft mac & cheese campaign, March 25 2013