The Inside Story On My Visit To Kraft Headquarters

When I boarded the plane in North Carolina to go to Chicago just a few days ago to deliver over 270,000 petitions to Kraft headquarters, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen.

Over the course of this week, several media outlets have interviewed me before, during and after my visit to Kraft where they reported bits and pieces of what happened; however, they didn’t share the whole inside story and that is why I want you to know everything that happened that day including everything that led up to the behind-closed-doors conversation I had with Kraft.

No April Fool’s Joke

On Monday, which happened to be April Fool’s Day, I  woke up at 5am to a very chilly morning in Chicago to get ready for a live TV interview on Fox News Chicago. I spent the night before thinking about what I was going to say and preparing for questions. There was one thing I wanted to get across in the interview – I wanted to ask Kraft on live TV, why they have refused to meet with me (after repeated attempts to reach out to them) and why they haven’t listened to over 270,000 thousand consumers. Luckily during the interview, I was able to ask those questions. My favorite line was telling Kraft “I’m not the boogie man.” To my surprise, Fox invited their medical correspondent on the show with me, who ended up confirming the research that there is a correlation between hyperactivity and the consumption of food dyes. This doctor even went on on live TV again in the afternoon that day, to confirm these findings in the evening broadcast. Many people at the station told me they appreciated my efforts to raise awareness about food safety. So of course, I took a moment and tweeted that.

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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):

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Our Response to Kraft’s Letter: It’s Time To Surrender Your Artificial Dyes

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.

Kraft Kids

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.”

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Kraft Yellow Petition Update – 175,000 signatures and growing

In a mere 36 hours our petition asking Kraft to remove artificial food dyes from their line of macaroni and cheese products has gone viral and now has more than 175,000 signatures. We are so taken aback by the instant and widespread media attention on this topic, which we think indicates how this much-needed change in our Food Industry has been imminent for some time. One of the big guys just needed a little push in the right direction, and we hope this is it. (Be sure to sign the petition if you haven’t already!)

We want to take a moment to share that this petition is honestly much bigger than just macaroni and cheese or even Kraft. There are many large US companies that use artificial dyes – as well as other additives like GMOs – in their food products here that are not used overseas. Everyone from General Mills to Kellogg’s to Pepsi, McDonalds and of course Kraft, have formulated safer, better versions of their products for other countries and this petition is a vehicle to let these companies know it’s time for American consumers get the same.

Kraft_Yellow_Petition

Our petition in particular is focusing on an iconic food product like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese because we thought this would be the best place to start to generate public awareness. If Kraft, the largest US-based food company, takes the lead by voluntarily removing potentially harmful – yet unnecessary – artificial food dyes our hope is that the others will follow suit.
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