Today I am appearing on the Dr. Oz Show with Lisa from 100daysofRealFood - be sure to tune in!
It’s been a little over one week since we started a petition to remove artificial food dyes from Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. We have over 228,000 signatures and, while we heard from Kraft right after the petition launched, it was not the response we were hoping for.
We thought it would be important to share their response and exact letter with you, so you can understand exactly what we are up against.
Below you’ll see Kraft’s letter to us along with our specific response and reaction in bold.
From Kraft: Hi Lisa and Vani,
Thanks for contacting us. The safety and quality of our products is our highest priority and we take consumer concerns very seriously. We carefully follow the laws and regulations in the countries where our products are sold. So in the U.S., we only use colors that are approved and deemed safe for food use by the Food and Drug Administration.
Our Response: When Kraft found out the safety of artificial food dyes was in question in Europe – why didn’t they make the “safety” of U.S. citizens their highest priority, too? Food is food – whether in our country or someone else’s – why not make all Kraft products standardized to the highest safety regulation across the board? Kraft was able to reformulate their products without artificial dyes in the U.K. without noticeably changing the color or taste – we even taste tested it ourselves just to prove this point. We know it can be done; Kraft doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel.
To further prove this point – Kraft stated this fact themselves by reformulating Lunchables in the UK without “compromising quality, taste and food safety.”
“Kraft Foods UK has no products aimed at children that contain the ingredients highlighted in the FSA [Southampton] study. . . . [W]ith our recent Lunchables reformulation in the UK, we reduced fat and salt, as well as removed artificial colours and flavours. Without compromising quality, taste and food safety, we will continue to see where we can make changes and still meet consumer expectations.”—Kraft Foods UK (Quote Taken from AllergyKids Foundation)
Because Kraft has not willingly and proactively reformulated their products in the US, it’s obvious to us that Kraft’s highest priority is their bottom line. We are asking Kraft, a multi-billion dollar company, to be the leader in the US Food Industry by voluntarily removing artificial dyes and owning up to the statements they make about safety and quality of their products.
From Kraft: We expanded our line of KRAFT Mac & Cheese (KMC) offerings. We know some people prefer foods without certain ingredients — we now offer a multitude of products without added colors, as well as products with natural food colors including:
- KMC Organic White Cheddar
- KMC Organic Cheddar
- KMC White Cheddar
- KMC Alfredo
- KMC Deluxe Original Cheddar
- KMC Deluxe Four Cheese
- KMC Deluxe Sharp Cheddar
- KMC Homestyle Creamy Parmesan Alfredo
- KMC Homestyle Sharp Cheddar and Bacon
- KMC Homestyle Classic Cheddar
- KMC Homestyle Hearty Four Cheese
- KMC Homestyle Bowl Southwest Tortilla
- KMC Homestyle Bowl Creamy Broccoli with White Cheddar
- KMC Cup Alfredo
Our Response: Who prefers food with artificial color? We are not sure many consumers do since it adds no benefit or nutritional value to the foods it’s in and is simply a cheap, cosmetic additive. And what about all the kids that reach for the boxes with cartoon characters? Do you really think they are going to pick out the Organic/Homestyle version over Spongebob? The above options of Macaroni and Cheese without artificial dyes are not targeted towards children, and the versions that are specifically designed for children do contain Yellow #5 and Yellow #6. Children are the ones that are most at risk for complications when consuming artificial dyes. In Europe, a food company is required to use a warning label when using artificial food dyes stating, “May cause adverse effects in activity and attention in children” on the package.
But meanwhile back in the US, Kraft features children regularly in commercials and goes as far as holding essay contests specifically for children to promote the introduction and creation of new product lines containing artificial food dyes – products like “Cheddar Explosion,” “Extreme Cheese Explosion,” and “Grilled Cheese Explosion.”
Since artificial dyes provide no value but do pose risks, we believe it is up to Kraft to voluntarily change their product and stop exploiting the FDA laws to their financial advantage. The 30 or so Kraft varieties that do still contain artificial dyes in the US are unfair to the children lured by these products, unfair to the less fortunate who buy these products because they are cheaper, and unfair to the uneducated consumer that is unaware of these potentially harmful ingredients.
Even the FDA admits we should be concerned, stating the following on their website:
“Exposure to food and food components, including AFC [Artificial Food Colors] and preservatives, may be associated with behavioral changes, not necessarily related to hyperactivity, in certain susceptible children with ADHD and other problem behaviors, and possibly in susceptible children from the general population.”