Kraft Acknowledged Petition But Didn’t Address Concerns of Over a Quarter Million People

For the first time in the more than 2 weeks since we launched our petition asking Kraft to remove artificial dyes from their line of macaroni and cheese, Kraft has finally acknowledged our petition and the more than 270,000 who have signed it. (Transcript of video continues below)

Here is Our Video Response To Kraft’s Latest Letter Addressed to “Mac & Cheese Lovers”:

The Actual Letter Posted on Kraft’s Website (This was not sent to us directly):

Kraft Click To Enlarge


Video Transcript:

Their response, posted on their website, states that 14 of their 45 or so varieties of macaroni and cheese do not contain artificial dyes and the ones that do contain dyes do not violate any FDA or European safety guidelines. However, they failed to mention that when these artificial dyes are used in Europe they require a warning label stating they “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”

First of all, the macaroni and cheese options here in the US have the similar “blue box” look and every single version that is geared toward children, with cartoon characters and phrases like “cheddar explosion,” all contain petroleum-based yellow #5 and yellow #6. The average American consumer is not versed on reading and understanding ingredient labels so would not even be able to determine the difference among all these similar looking boxes and – more importantly – many likely don’t realize these dyes are the culprit when it comes to their child’s misbehavior and other health issues.

Kraft Kids

We’ve received hundreds of letters from consumers telling us how these artificial dyes have negatively impacted their children. And, coincidentally, just last week a friend of Lisa’s sent her message saying that her normally smart, kind, very obedient, and well-behaved child – who is in the gifted and talented program at her school – had a very strange and disturbing outburst and she wasn’t sure why. Their family normally eats pretty clean, but she happened to let her daughter have a store-bought treat and shortly thereafter she had a huge explosive meltdown. She said the last time a meltdown of this extreme occurred was also right after a similar store-bought snack – which after some discussion we determined both contained artificial dye. This is what she said in her message, “Her daughter’s actual FACE changed, her eyes became dark underneath and she became angry and irrational.” At one point – and she was even a little embarrassed to tell me this – her daughter “yelled, opened the door to the house, and ran outside uncontrollably.” Later that night she cried and said ‘Why did I do that mommy?’”

This is exactly why those telling us “Just don’t buy this mac and cheese anymore” won’t work. Because as we mentioned the average consumer doesn’t understand these artificial dyes are a problem ingredient and pose health risks and should be avoided. We have directly reached out to various executives at Kraft since day 1 of our petition through emails, voicemails and tweets. They continue to ignore us personally and all we’d like to do is meet with them to come to some sort of conclusion so we can all move on.

We even had our blog readers reach out to Kraft through social media and the Kraft customer service hotline. There were so many voice mail messages left at the headquarters that we were told by many that they couldn’t get through or even leave a message because their mailboxes were full. And by the looks of both the Kraft general and Kraft Mac and Cheese Facebook pages they have been overwhelmed with comments about this campaign, with over 95% of them asking Kraft to remove these artificial dyes from their mac and cheese, just like they’ve already done for their European customers.

One reader who attempted to call the Kraft headquarters was told that the organic version of Kraft Mac and Cheese was one option she could buy without the artificial dye – yet after the customer service rep did a quick search using her zip code he could not find that particular product within a 50-mile radius of her home. And she isn’t exactly out in rural America…she lives in one of the biggest cities in our country, Chicago, which also happens to be right where Kraft is headquartered!

Also, in Kraft’s response last week they claim that their customers don’t want them to make changes to this iconic product. Who are the people who want their mac and cheese with artificial dyes? These dyes, which only benefit the food manufacturer and not the customer, do not change the flavor or affect the nutritional value of the foods they are in. They are purely for cosmetic reasons only. So who are these consumers that Kraft says “won’t settle for anything less?” Clearly Kraft has already figured out a way to formulate their original recipe without artificial dyes for their customers in Europe. We made and tried both versions ourselves – and so did Dr. Oz on his show – and we all came to the same conclusion that they look and taste virtually the same.

We’d like to stress that Kraft has not only removed artificial dyes from their mac and cheese overseas, they have removed them – and replaced them with safer natural dyes – from almost ALL of their product lines including Lunchables, Trident Gum, Ritz Cheese Crackers, and Halls Cough Drops, just to name a few. And here in the US we are simply asking them to start with their flagship product, macaroni and cheese, which they reportedly sell 350 million boxes of per year. (No wonder they haven’t responded favorably to our petition yet.) But their lack of response is not going to stop us from trying to get them to take the lead on this small – yet significant and positive – change for our food industry.

If you want to get involved with our campaign to request that these artificial dyes be removed here are some things you can do to help:

  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 at https://www.facebook.com/kraftmacaroniandcheese or https://www.facebook.com/KraftFoods
  4. Send them a tweet at @kraftfoods or @kraftmacncheese
  5. Or email them at news@kraftfoods.com, Noelle.OMara@kraftfoods.com, lynne.galia@kraftfoods.com, irene.Rosenfeld@kraftfoods.com, cindy.halvorsen@kraftfoods.com,
  6. Vote with your dollars by choosing macaroni and cheese and other products from brands that do not use artificial dyes.

 

Thank you to everyone who is helping to support this campaign. We feel it’s an important one and, based on the more than quarter million signatures we’ve received at change.org/kraftyellow, clearly we are not alone. We can’t wait to celebrate with you when Kraft finally removes these unnecessary – yet potentially harmful – artificial dyes.

Food Babe & 100 Days of Real Food
 

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121 Responses to “Kraft Acknowledged Petition But Didn’t Address Concerns of Over a Quarter Million People”

  1. dnoth

    “6. Vote with your dollars by choosing macaroni and cheese and other products from brands that do not use artificial dyes.”

    I choose this one by default, because Kraft Mac & Cheese is just plain terrible to begin with.

    Reply
    • Britton (to dnoth)

      I totally agree, the fastest way to make the Kraft Corporation change it ways is to hit em’ where it hurts. In the pocket! I hate Kraft and have stopped buying any of their products. It wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all to see the company go slam out of business. Suck it Kraft!

      Reply
  2. Michelle Szymanski

    Instead of driving yourself crazy,,just stop buying Kraft products.That’s putting your money where your mouth is.How hard is it to make your own mac and cheese?It’s also a great,fun activity to do with your kids.If everyone in the U.S. just stopped buying these products,,they will hear you loud and clear.

    Reply
    • Stephanie (to Michelle Szymanski)

      I agree! one of the simplest and quickest kid-friendly to make from fresh cheese!

      Reply
    • ILona James (to Michelle Szymanski)

      AMEN!

      Reply
  3. Cathy

    Dear Food Babe,
    I just saw you on Fox news and appreciate your passion for this project but I would say if you REALLY want to change things, approach the FDA. Sounds even more bureaucratic than Kraft? Well yes, but unlike corporate America they are required to be more transparent, so your voice will be heard. Now you must have concrete evidence to support your claims and not just some other country does not allow the suspect additives. So if you are game, contact the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN).

    My guess is if Kraft indicated they were considering looking at the formula to remove artificial coloring, they probably are – the program manager is always looking to increase sales. But I bet they would simply enter a competing product in the market at a higher price and let the consumers vote with their pocketbook. Think of what happened to Coca-Cola when they changed their original formula – there was a revolt and the old formula came back.
    But that would take time – Kraft will have oodles of contracts with suppliers including the supplier of the artificial colorants and will be required to purchase the full amount of contracted material and there is little chance they will let it waste away on their shelves. But even to change the product requires going through change control and that takes time and all sorts of studies. Bacterial contamination of spices is hard to control and may require additional chemicals to make the product shelf life acceptable – the product sold in the UK may use an unapproved antibacterial so they cannot switch easily.
    Also don’t be offended Kraft didn’t respond to you personally, they likely get thousands of letters and don’t respond to them individually either. Anyway, good luck in your fight.

    Reply
    • Jocelyn (to Cathy)

      I can certainly appreciate what you’re saying and your faith in our governmental institution; but the reality is, if you think the FDA is *required* to be more transparent than Kraft I believe a little research is in order. The FDA is no more transparent or truthful than Kraft or any other mega food corporation. Being in bed with Monsanto (Monsanto former execs joining the FDA anyone?) has guaranteed the American public will never be told the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

      Reply
  4. Erin

    I bet if that many people just stop buying Kraft altogether (including their 14 lines that don’t have dyes) they will be forced to change. As for the lady in Chicago, I’m sure there is a Whole Foods (or similar store) within those 50 miles to get a better alternative. Whole Foods 365 brand mac and cheese is convenient to have around with organic varieties that taste great as well. I am very impressed with you guys continuing to pursue this issue, but don’t know if they will truly get the message until they realize that the sales reflect the same message.

    Reply
  5. Jennie @ The Seasoned Dish

    Vani, I just saw you on television here in Chicago! Congratulations for at least getting Kraft to let you in the doors. I can’t wait to hear what they had to say.

    Reply
  6. Lisa D

    Keep up the good work! Don’t forget that the products with artificial dyes are the ones marketed to kids on t.v. It is not just a matter of cartoons on the packaging.

    Reply
  7. Lisa D

    I also think they are afraid to change because they know this is the tip of the iceburg. They are afraid that after this, people will demand they change all their other products too. And other corporations may even be pressuring them not to give in as well. They can’t use it as great p.r. unless they are willing to take dyes out of their whole Kraft line.

    Reply
  8. Skye

    Have they really been using these harmful dyes in their well-loved products for all 75 years? I have my doubts.
    It can’t be all that difficult to remove something that is more than likely harmful to growing and developing children. We can’t keep allowing companies to do things like this to the future generations.

    Reply
    • rob (to Skye)

      what future will our kids have without the freedom to produce, sell or consume what they want let the market decide.

      Reply
  9. Jason Schatz

    How about not eating processed foods at all? Even though they remove the artificial dyes, the food itself is still not healthy. Try not to focus on fighting these companies, instead, focus on promoting healthier alternatives. All that time fighting is just generating more negative energy when you could be generating positive energy by encouraging healthier eating habits.

    Reply
  10. Nanette Cole

    I don’t eat ANYTHING processed, out of a can, bag, box or carton because of this crap. Our government is killing us with all the people they “sleep” with. I’m stepping off my soap box now.

    Reply
  11. Elle

    The article states hat the career who lived in chicago couldn’t find the organic Mac and cheese within 50 miles… I live in a suburb of Chicago, 20 miles outside city limits and I buy the organic Kraft all the time…at a Jewel. Not sure why the Kraft employee didn’t know this. Just wanted to clarify

    Reply
  12. Sent

    Food dyes are permitted and used to perpetuate drug sales which counter act their effect. Sad but true. Does Europe have ads on TV about Abilify or Adderall? Nope. Hence the non-push of synthetic product promotors.

    Reply
  13. Katja

    Just discovered about your petition today on Canadian news. I wonder how the situation is here in Canada. To be honest, I never buy the Mac&Cheese products, rather cook it from scratch. But my kids love it when they eat it at the neighbors.
    Did you know we have a great Mac&Cheese restaurant here in Vancouver, B.C.? I wrote about it on my blog.
    Thanks for the tips about Mac&Cheese dyes.

    Reply
  14. Rochelle

    Kraft’s response is typical. When I asked companies years ago if they put Carmine in their food, I specifically said in my first email that I didn’t care what the FDA allowed and didn’t allow. I wanted them to know I was disgusted in this ingredient and didn’t trust the FDA. They always ignored that part of my email and repeated it. They pay the FDA so it isn’t really surprising any more. I am happy that you are fighting for all the kids that eat Kraft products and whose parents are too busy or can’t afford Annie’s etc. Thanks for fighting the giant corporations. We need to hold these companies accountable.

    Reply
  15. Christy

    I’ll bet some other food company will come through and offer a clean substitute. This situation provides so much free PR and marketing opportunities for any company willing to take advantage. Who’s going to be the hero?

    Reply
  16. Katie

    Thank You for the information ,I called Kraft and signed the petition.If they do not change I will not buy.Their response was well the F.D.A said it was okay for children.What kind of response is that.These days who trusts the F.D.A.

    Reply
  17. Kevin

    May I ask why you are singling out Kraft Mac and Cheese? Since yellow 5 and yellow 6 are the only yellow dyes approved by the FDA they are in just about everything that is yellow or orange. Not just Kraft but most store brands of mac and cheese have them, as well as Hamburger Helper (name brand and store brand) Mountain Dew, Gatorade, Tang (like the astronauts drink) salad dressing, hard candy, the list goes on and on.

    So why single out Kraft and make them look like the bad guy when every other food company uses the same dyes?

    Reply
    • Assistant to Food Babe (Krista) (to Kevin)

      Hi Kevin, Vani and Lisa chose Kraft because they are such a huge food company and if they decide to make a change, others may follow.

      Reply
      • Arcanus Shadowborne (to Assistant to Food Babe (Krista))

        I have to say that this is a good call.
        This way, when Kraft blows them off (and we all know they WILL blow them off), other companies will see it happen and follow Kraft’s example by standing up to sanctimonious, self-righteous simpletons (like Lisa and Vani) who ignore facts that contradict what they are saying, see only what they choose to see; and, when all is said and done, are simply looking for the 15 minutes of fame that Andy Warhol promised that all of us would have in the future.
        These two, however, are unable to fill even FIVE minutes of that 15

      • No name (to Arcanus Shadowborne)

        They are trying to get chemicals our of food, why are you against that? Chemicals in food are dangerous and DO cause medical problems. There are way safer ingredients to cause colors and flavors that are not dangerous and have the same affect on color and taste. This is just blatantly ignorant of you, artificial dyes ARE dangerous, medical science proved it a long time ago, and this isn’t about fame it’s about removing dangerous ingredients from food that EVERYONE buys.

      • Arcanus Shadowborne (to No name)

        I oppose their stand because at the very opening of the video the line they use scare tactics to frighten viewers into seeing things their way. These health food nuts have been spouting nonsense like this for YEARS and these two are just the latest in a long line of bandwagon jumpers to come rolling down the trail.

        Vani attempt failed because the European label reads “MAY have an adverse effect in attention and activity in children”. It doesn’t say “DOES” but the tentative “MAY”, as if to say “We don’t really know for sure, so we’ll just go on ahead and toss that out there just in case so we’re covered”.

        Lisa’s was a little better because she started in with how the boxes all look alike and many of them have cartoon characters on them (as if to hint at a threat to children), but then says “The average consumer is not versed in reading and understanding ingredient labels”. Personally, this leaves me with the impression (as I said in the post I made that was deleted in a stunning display of cowardice), that Lisa seems to think that more than 50% of Kraft’s consumers are idiots who are just too stupid to understand what the label says. Needless to say, I take exception to this.

        I’ve done some research and study on this myself and I see a lot of “may”, “might”, “maybe”, and other POSSIBLE things, but there has yet to be a, iron-clad link between ADD/ADHD in children or other health risks. More often than not, people want to look to external things to blame problems on rather than take a good look at themselves.
        “My kids just can’t sit still or stay quiet.”
        “*GASP* They have ADD/ADHD!”
        “Yellow #5 might cause this in children….it’s the MAC & CHEESE they eat that’s causing it, not the fact that I can’t figure out how to keep them positively stimulated!”
        If you think that’s a stretch, I can remember when soda was made with sugar – which supposedly caused hyperactivity in children so food makers switched to high fructose corn syrup to get away from that evil sugar.

        Now what’s funny to me is this: Yellow #5 and Yellow No 6 are both really bad for us, according to these two, right? Yet that didn’t stop Vani from donning the “war paint” for this video. All that make-up she has on is loaded with Yellow #5. Her eyeshadow, blush, lipstick, foundation, etc. – ALL OF IT (even her fake tan). If she was really that worried about Yellow #5, she would’ve gone “alfresco”. What’s more, pharmaceutical companies use it to dye their pills so that they can be differentiated from one another, and have been for decades.

        Bottom line is that Yellow #5 is so many of the things we use (not just eat, but use) that if they should somehow manage to get Kraft to cow down to them (highly unlikely) it would be pointless. It’s be like celebrating you putting out a fire in a building located in a city that is burning to the ground around you.

      • No name (to Arcanus Shadowborne)

        As much as some of your statements are true, at least they are trying instead of sitting there with their thumbs up their anuses saying “everyone does it so why try to stop them? Eventually something may take hold, but doing nothing about it is what causes problems to begin with.

        Those labels for the ones in the UK are there but not as tentative as you think, lab result have indeed proven behavioral problems clearly associated with the chemicals they use in food, everyone these days is lss healthy than they were years ago. The death rate has only gone down because people have medical advancement but they are still sick, get sick from stupid things, and are too paranoid about eating natural versus chemical because “EEK BACTERIA”, wehave immune systems that take care of that. What we do not have is the proper system to handle chemicals that are used in toxic paints, degreasers, and crap knows what else.

        Your original statement and your current one make it sound like you don’t believe all these chemical additives are bad for you. Given that I am against “organic” as it is no different than regular whole foods, I am against all the artificial coloring they add that have had documented side effects on people and animals.

        One example of human stupidity is aspartame… Yum! Let’s take a highly toxic wood poison that happens to be sweet, throw away test results proving it causes cancer, symptoms of ms, and even causes uncontrollable blood sugars in diabetics and sell it as a safe alternative to sugar! Because sugar is the devil! It’s a problem! Only problem is people have a habit of when they know the truth and have a conscience they keep those test results and display them to the world to show people the truth and yet a lot of humans are so stupid they see the result, know they are sick, and tell them off for doubting the safty of the FDA and their approval of chemicals.

        Oh about that sugar being replaced by high fructose corn syrup… here’s the kicker… there’s no difference. Anyone claiming there is has not graduated 7th grade science. Also, anyone claiming HFCS is worse than “real” sugar is full of it, they are chemically, down to the LAST molecule, identical in every way, shape, and form. They just came from different sources.

        I am not a “health nut” like some people, but I do fight for causes like getting chemicals out of food. People really are not able to read most labels, the people put the technical chemical name on the side so as to confuse average people so they just don’t read it and throw it in the basket because it tastes great. And simple fact there really is no difference between the ones with no chemical additives and the one with, except that children AND adults who eat it have drastic personality and attitude changes. Not everyone is affected by the additives but it’s a vast majority, just like escolar.

        I am just trying to make even the slightest difference, if they can make kraft do it they can continue and go after other companies, but what people NEED to do is boycott foods like this… problem is these are so affordable and most of us can’t go to anything else. I have tried. Now I eat whole grain pasta with real cheese, not that american cheese plastic crap that’s also bad for you, like actual cheese, and it tastes better and I feel better. I have a medical condition that makes me sensitive to a lot of chemicals, even natural ones, but if I can’t eat it generally no should anyone else (exception of garlic, onion, and cinnamon which I am allergic to).

        Again not saying this will go anywhere but doing nothing really is the worst thing we can do.

  18. Shaun

    How about you health nuts find something better to do than mess with products that most people have been happy with for MANY YEARS! You whiners are the ones that create ‘bubble babies’, whose natural immune systems can no longer do their intended jobs because of over protection. Let your kids play in mud puddles, eat dirt and crayons (Kraft Dinner too), hunt worms and frogs… Over protection like this is killing our future!

    Reply
    • rob (to Shaun)

      you forgot about all those people that run to the doctor when they get a sniffle and load up on antibiotics, they wonder why they keep getting sick.

      Reply
  19. jeremy ledford

    what about sugar? it can cause hyperactivity.. Chocolate? Tea?

    how about a petition to keep people like you from stealing my oxygen? you certainly don’t deserve it.

    Reply
  20. sastribling

    I think that Kraft’s response letter was great. You are upset the ones marketed to kids contain artificials, but parents have the overall buying power. Europe may have warning labels, but they also have different media scares than the US. For example, they allow certain pesticides in the EU that the US doesn’t. The US has one of the strictest regulatory bodies out there, and colors aren’t really at the top of their priority list (for a reason).

    Reply
  21. Kevin North

    It’s not against the law to use artificial dyes, and we’re not forcing Kraft to take them out. But it does make good business sense for Kraft to give their customers what they want, esp. large numbers of them.

    General Mills wasn’t forced to, but decided to go “gluten free” on many of their Chex cereals, and now they’re exploiting this as an advantage they have over their competitors. Similarly, I’ve seen some companies advertise on TV that they’re using real sugar and not high fructose corn syrup.

    So if Kraft takes out artificial dyes, it may cost them a few cents more per box, but they could use it as a marketing advantage by boasting about “no dyes” and “natural” on their box. And every parent wants “natural” for their kids! It’s almost a no-brainer!

    I’m trying to think what could possibly motivate Kraft to give such a cold response so far. Maybe they have brokered special deals with the dye manufacturers – e.g., super cheap prices on dyes if they pledge to exclusively use their dyes in the U.S. (This is just a GUESS, by the way!) Anyway, something like this is true, it’s going to take a lot more work to break this barrier down.

    But DON’T GIVE UP! 1) Keep collecting more signatures. It’s only going to increase the publicity and put more pressure on Kraft. 2) Who is Kraft’s biggest Mac & Cheese competitor? If Kraft won’t listen, go to them. The #2 company in a business is ALWAYS looking for something to give them an edge over their competition, and dye-free may be just the thing!

    Reply
  22. PattyMom

    Thank you for your work educating consumers, and for trying to get Kraft and other food manufacturers to change.

    Reply
  23. FreedomofChoice

    So the 270,000 people could just quit buying and eating it…I do homemade mac and cheese. It takes just as long to make and tastes way better. My husband no longer craves the box of yuck and the kids are eating something much healthier for them. I couldn’t ask for more…I even sneak some veggies into the mix to give my cheese sauce that odd shade of yellow with butternut squash.

    Reply
  24. Patti Haigler

    Hamburgers are usually a feature of fast food restaurants. The hamburgers served in major fast food establishments are usually mass-produced in factories and frozen for delivery to the site. These hamburgers are thin and of uniform thickness, differing from the traditional American hamburger prepared in homes and conventional restaurants, which is thicker and prepared by hand from ground beef. ‘

    View the helpful post at our blog page
    <http://www.caramoantourpackage.com/

    Reply
  25. andria

    I dont buy Kraft anymore! they can eat thier own dyed garbage food

    Reply
  26. rob

    if you don’t like what they put in it don’t buy it. what gives you the right to decide what they put in there product. it people like you that helps the government to take our freedoms little by little.

    Reply
    • No name (to rob)

      Hey jerk, some people have no other choice, all the cheapest foods that poor families can afford have this junk and they have NO FRIKKEN CHOICE but to buy them. You are on your soap box but not everyone is as rich as you to be able to just buy whatever they want. Just putting that out there seeing as you don’t know the situation of people lower than middle-class citizens who are now a minority and most of us are below poverty.

      Reply
    • No name (to rob)

      Oh and FYI making companies remove DANGEROUS CHEMICALS from stuff we eat isn’t that “removing freedom” bullcrap you are thinking of. Obamacare removes freedom, not making food safer to eat. What gives YOU the right to protect dangerous chemicals in common food? It doesn’t even affect the way it tastes nor looks, it is just there… no reason. And it wasn’t there 75 years ago and people still loved it. So get off your high horse and stop dictating to people they are infringing freedom, because this is not about freedom it’s about dangerous chemicals in food and they are doing this to scam us into drugs and other such things. Open your eyes.

      Reply
  27. Arcanus Shadowborne

    ….I see you deleted the post I made earlier today. Why would you do that?
    Because I dared to question you?
    Or is it because the wiki page I hyperlinked didn’t say what you wanted it to?

    ….morons

    Reply
  28. C'PB

    Did Yellow #5 and #6 exist 75 years ago?? Seems to me, the ‘original’ Mac & Cheese they ‘know’ we ‘love’ and “have for 75 years” would NOT have contained artificial ingredients, since these additives hadn’t yet been ‘discovered’ or approved by FDA. I wonder what the ‘original’ recipe looked like~

    Just a thought!

    Reply

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