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The Exciting Changes The Food Industry Made in 2015 Because Of Us!

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2016! 

Reading all the news about food this past year has been a bit surreal for me. It seems like there was a new announcement every week that eliminated another chunk of our food supply that was once tainted with chemical additives, GMOs or antibiotics. Our world is transforming and it’s absolutely beautiful to be part of with all of you.

There’s a landslide of artificial additives falling out of our food. You (the Food Babe Army), along with hundreds of food activists and consumer interest groups, have truly been at the helm of many of these changes. You’ve been leading the way by sharing investigations, signing petitions, and simply asking for healthier food without fake chemical additives, flavors, colors, preservatives, and GMOs. 

While we all know these changes are just a start – and we’ve got a long way to go – I thought it would be a good idea to sit back and take a look at all that’s happened in just the last 12 months. Seeing this picture of my top nine most liked Instagram posts in 2015 – sums it up pretty good, but there is so much more that happened. When you see the long list below, you might do a double take, but that’s what we did in just one year! We made history together and it’s AMAZING. 

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JANUARY 2015

Heineken Newcastle Brown Ale – (January 26, 2015) Removed caramel coloring (level IV) to their Newcastle Brown Ale, and will go back to coloring it the natural way with roasted malt. In 2013, following extensive work done by CSPI who sued the government to require ingredient labels on alcohol 30 years ago, I published the long list of hidden ingredients that are permitted to be used in beers without labeling. At that time, I reached out to Heineken as the maker of my husband’s favorite beer – Newcastle – and disclosed on my blog that they color it artificially with caramel color and this post went absolutely viral with millions of page views. I also wrote a chapter about all the additives in alcohol in my NYT Best Selling book The Food Babe Way, which I released early in December before the book came out. I continued to correspond with Heineken periodically until they emailed me this January, “…as your husband’s former favorite beer. I wanted to make sure you knew that we have removed caramel coloring from Newcastle completely.”

FEBRUARY 2015

General Mills – (February 6, 2015) In response to our petition asking them to dump the BHT just as they do overseas, General Mills said that they will be removing this controversial preservative from their cereals. They have yet to provide a timeline for it’s removal but they have made progress and have since removed BHT from some varieties of their cereal – Golden Grahams, Cocoa Puffs, Banana Nut Cheerios, and Corn Chex no longer contain BHT. Kellogg’s also committed to look into removing this very controversial additive, but has not provided a timeline either.

Nestle Chocolate – (February 17, 2015) Announced that they will get rid of artificial colors and artificial flavors from their chocolate candies, including Butterfinger and Crunch bars, by the end of this year. In 2012, we exposed the artificial additives in candy bars, a post you shared thousands of times. Now at least two of these additives (artificial colors and artificial flavors) will be gone from Nestle chocolate for good!

Hershey’s Chocolate – (February 24, 2015) On the heels of Nestle’s big announcement, Hershey’s said they are cleaning up their famous Milk Chocolate Bars and Hershey’s Kisses, by removing GMO sugar and GMO soy lecithin, polyglycerol polyricinoleate (PGPR), vanillin and artificial flavors, and will use milk from cows not treated with the growth hormone rBST. In 2012, I wrote about the GMOs in most popular chocolates and asked for a boycott of these brands (including Hershey’s) until they got rid of the GMOs and last December GMO Inside started a campaign to get GMO sugar out of Hershey’s Chocolate

MARCH 2015

McDonald’s – (March 4, 2015) Announced that over the next 2 years they will stop using chickens that were treated with antibiotics commonly used for humans after behind the scenes pressure from us and several consumer interest and activist groups: NRDC, Friends of The EarthPew Charitable Trusts, Consumers Union, Center for Food SafetyFACT, Keep Antibiotics Working, Consumers International, U.S. PIRG and others. You shared so many posts from here on FoodBabe.com about the dangers of feeding growth-promoting antibiotics to animals, notably herehere, here, and on CNN here. This is huge news, as McDonald’s is one of the biggest industry leaders.

Costco – (March 5, 2015) Just one day following McDonald’s, Costco reports to the media that they are in the process of eliminating chicken and meat that was raised on human-use antibiotics from their stores.

Dunkin’ Donuts – (March 10, 2015) Removed the whitening agent titanium dioxide from their powdered sugar, following a campaign by the non-profit group As You Sow. They decided to remove it after As You Sow reportedly found titanium dioxide nanoparticles in their powdered donuts. This is important because nanoparticles (super tiny particles) aren’t necessarily safe and can be more dangerous than larger versions of the same substances. 

APRIL 2015

McDonald’s – (April 2, 2015) Starting to clean up their grilled chicken, and won’t cook it in the “liquid margarine” that they’ve used for years in many of their menu items. They are removing sodium phosphates and maltodextrin from their grilled artisan chicken breasts. In March, we put a spotlight on the insane amount of additives found in McDonald’s food, even their “healthier” items like their Premium Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad, full of soybean oil, hidden MSG, and high fructose corn syrup (and that’s without the dressing).

Kraft – (April 20, 2015) Kraft finally announced plans to drop the artificial colors (yellow #5 and yellow #6) from all of their Mac & Cheese products. This came after we launched a petition in 2013 asking them to remove these fake dyes made from petroleum, and to use the same safer natural food colorings that they use in other countries. Our petition ultimately garnered over 365,000 signatures and received widespread media attention. When I visited their headquarters to deliver signed petitions two years ago, they told me that we would have to agree to disagree – and revealed no plans to remove these dyes. Well, we did it! The fake dyes in Kraft Mac & Cheese will be ancient history by January 2016.

Pilgrim Pride – (April 20, 2015) Told reporters that they are working to stop the use of human-use antibiotics in their chickens within 18 months, and has further plans to eliminate all antibiotics from ¼ of their chickens by 2019. Pilgrim is one of the major suppliers of chicken to Chick-Fil-A, and as the 2nd largest poultry processor in the U.S. this news should rock the industry. My #1 request when I met with Chick-Fil-A in 2012 was for them to go antibiotic-free and when they finally committed to this request in 2014 it began to make shock waves!

Chipotle – (April 28, 2015) Officially dumped all genetically modified (GMO) ingredients from their food (excluding animal products and drinks). This means that they are no longer using tortillas with GMO ingredients and won’t be cooking their beans in GMO soybean oil any longer. In 2013 we finally convinced Chipotle to list their ingredients online publicly, after we exposed the GMOs in most of their menu items. Not only did you share this post a lot, but some citizen activists even started a petition based on my investigation. The pressure worked!

Tyson – (April 28, 2015) As the largest U.S. poultry producer, Tyson announced huge plans to stop using human-use antibiotics in their chickens by September 2017, and is working on this for other meat as well. Tyson is also a major chicken supplier for McDonald’s, so this move was likely influenced by them.

Wendy’s – (April 29, 2015) Starts offering their first organic item: tea.

MAY 2015

Panera Bread – (May 4, 2015) Announced they are removing 150 artificial additives, including artificial colors, BHT, nitrates, high fructose corn syrup, hidden MSG, and partially hydrogenated oils. We called out Panera back in 2012 for using nitrates and hidden MSG ingredients like hydrolyzed corn and soy protein, autolyzed yeast extract and yeast extract. Now those ingredients will be history! They are all slated to be removed by the end of 2016. This commitment also extends into their soft drinks, as the New York Times reported that Panera is going to either sell Pepsi products without high fructose corn syrup, or kick them to the curb!

Target – (May 19, 2015) Reportedly told big name brands like Kraft, General Mills, Campbell’s, and Kellogg’s that they were going to stop heavily promoting their products in their stores. Instead, Target will stock their shelves with more food from healthier organic brands.

Walmart – (May 22, 2015) Asked their suppliers to stop the use of growth-promoting antibiotics. They’re also asking them to follow “five principles of animal welfare”, ensuring the animals are “not starved, have sufficient space to move, and do not suffer mental distress”.

Abbott Laboratories – (May 25, 2015) The maker of Similac Advance baby formula came out with a non-GMO version that is sold in Target stores. They will also be launching a non-GMO Similac Sensitive formula, and if sales are strong they will offer more non-GMO varieties. In 2014, we reported the results of testing done by Consumer Reports that found GMOs in many popular infant formulas, including two Similac formulas. Several activist groups (Green America, GMO Inside, As You Sow) have been working extensively to rid GMOs from infant formulas.

Unilever – (May 26, 2015) Announced they are coming out with a new non-GMO Hellmann’s Mayonnaise made with olive oil. Since most mayonnaise dressings are made with GMO soybean oil, and Hellman’s is an industry leader, GMO Inside started a campaign last year to get the GMOs out of Hellman’s “real” mayo. (This non-GMO mayonnaise is already in some stores, but beware that the eggs used were raised on GMO feed and non-GMO soybean oil is an ingredient).

JUNE 2015

Subway – (June 4, 2015) Plans to remove all artificial flavors, colors and preservatives in the U.S. and Canada by 2017. This is clearly just a start, but I was thrilled that they have been working on removing caramel coloring from their cold cuts! But, they made no mention of the breads that still contain it. Subway has so far been tight lipped about which specific ingredients and preservatives they are nixing. I first broke down the ingredients in a Subway sandwich 2012, and showed that every “Eat Fresh” sandwich contained preservatives, and they still use a lot of them! Artificial yellow dye should be coming out of their fat-free Italian dressing, banana peppers, and pickles. Subway currently uses artificial flavors in a number of items (like a few of their breads and cookies), but if all they’re going to do is replace those with natural flavors that isn’t an improvement

General Mills Cereal – (June 22, 2015) Removing artificial colors and artificial flavors from all of their cereals, including Lucky Charms, Trix, and Reese’s Puffs. For instance, instead of using Red #40, Yellow #6 in Trix, they’re going to start coloring it naturally with turmeric and berry juices – which is huge news for parents that report that their children are sensitive to these artificial food dyes. The majority of their cereals don’t contain artificial colors already, but 40% do until these changes finish rolling out in waves by the end of 2017. 

Papa John’s Pizza – (June 23, 2015) Announced they’re removing 14 ingredients by the end of 2016, including artificial colors, caramel color, the preservative sodium benzoate, and hidden MSG ingredients like autolyzed yeast extract and hydrolyzed proteins. We wrote all about these hidden MSG ingredients used in Papa John’s pizza in our pizza investigation in 2014, and reported their lack of transparency in refusing to disclose ingredient lists. Since our investigation, they listed ingredients on their website (however this list is NOT complete). 

If you heard the news that Pizza Hut & Taco Bell are removing artificial ingredients… here’s what I think about that in this video!

July 2015

Campbell’s – (July 23, 2015) They’re getting rid of artificial flavors and artificial colors by 2018 in all of their brands – Campbell’s Soup, Pepperidge Farm, Swanson. They will also remove high fructose corn syrup from some products and offer more organic products. In 2013, I wrote about how Pepperidge Farm duped my family into buying their products full of artificial additives – this post was viewed by millions of people because you shared it. Once you learn this information, you can’t unlearn it and that’s why these companies have had to change for the better!  

Wendy’s – (July 27, 2015) Starts offering chicken raised without antibiotics in four test markets. 

August 2015

Kellogg’s – (August 5, 2015) Following General Mill’s lead, they will start removing artificial colors and flavors in their cereals, snack bars and Eggo products to be completed by end of 2018. 

Starbucks – (August 17, 2015) Starbucks published the new ingredients in their reformulated Pumpkin Spice Latte, which now includes real pumpkin and no caramel coloring, on their blog. This came following my initial investigation into their ingredients in 2012 and after millions of you read my post about Starbucks PSL in 2014, which exposed their lack of transparency about ingredients and that the PSL contained class IV caramel coloring that’s linked to cancer. In March, I received an email from Starbucks corporate offices confirming they removed caramel color from their vanilla syrup and will from their other beverages.

General Mills Fruit Snacks – (August 25, 2015) Fruit Rollups, Fruit By The Foot, and Fruit Gushers will be free of artificial colors and flavors by the end of 2017. In 2014 I called out the unhealthy “Generally Toxic” ingredients  and thousands of you shared this post. 

McDonald’s – (August 31, 2015) Starts using real butter and ditches the trans-fat containing buttery spread that they previously used. 

September 2015

McCormick – (September 8, 2015) Introduced non-GMO vanilla extract (many brands contain GMO corn syrup) and said 80% of their gourmet herbs & spices will be organic and 70% of all of their herbs, spices, and extracts will be non-GMO by 2016. This is big news because although the spices themselves are not GMO, they can be mixed with derivatives of GMO corn or soy, and many spices are heavily sprayed with synthetic pesticides and irradiated (not allowed on organics). You shared this post about all additives that could be lurking in your spice cabinet thousands of times!

October 2015

Mondelez – (October 1, 2015) Removing artificial colors and flavors many products such as their Oreo cookies and Ritz crackers… but they gave themselves until 2020 to do it. 

Aldi Grocery Stores – (October 1, 2015) Removed artificial colors, partially hydrogenated oils (trans fat) and MSG from their store-brand products.

Subway – (October 20, 2015) Committed to eliminating the use of antibiotics in all of their meat in the U.S. – and they also provided a timeline. This announcement came following our major petition in conjunction with other petitions launched by other consumer advocacy groups (U.S. PIRGNRDCCenter for Food SafetyFriends of the Earth and others) that I’ve been working closely with for the last year. All of these petitions received a total of over 250,000 signatures! I was literally about to board a plane to deliver petitions to their headquarters when this announcement was made!

Schwan’s – (October 21, 2015) Working to remove partially hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and artificial colors by 2017 from their many brands such as Red Baron, Tony’s, Freschetta pizza, and Mrs. Smith’s.

November 2015

Guinness Beer – (November 2, 2015) Will eliminate the use of isinglass (fish bladders) in their refining process, making their beers vegan-friendly. Many people were unaware of this practice which I exposed in my 2013 beer investigation and my book, and although it may not be harmful, its use is not labeled and a big concern for vegans who would never guess that animal parts are used to produce some beers. 

December 2015

Papa Johns – (December 18, 2015) Joins the growing list of restaurants that will no longer serve chicken raised on antibiotics. By next summer, their grilled chicken pizza topping and chicken poppers will be antibiotic-free. 

As You Can See. We accomplished a lot this year! Everything that is happening in this giant GOOD FOOD MOVEMENT is mind blowing to me.

Please note, this list only captures just some of the changes we directly impacted or were involved with, but so much more is happening behind closed doors. Food companies everywhere are making tweaks without alerting the media and public, so make sure to pay attention to those ingredient lists and keep asking questions!

It truly has taken hundreds of food activists and consumer interest groups, along with all of us working together, sharing investigations and petitions with our friends and families, to spread this movement like wildfire. These companies know that we won’t back down, and that we are looking to them to keep improving their products. It certainly seems that some additives that have been mainstays in processed food for decades (like artificial colors) will soon be out of our food for good. This is a really exciting time! I love this quote from Richard McCarthy of Slow Food USA on this current food movement: 

“What was once considered unrealistic is now pragmatic and good business… While the fine print may not speak to dramatic shifts…the bounds of thinkable thoughts are moving towards our belief that food should be good, clean and fair.”

I thank you and all the food activists that work along side us for your incredible work. Looking back at what we have accomplished this year together, continues to blow my mind! Wish I could hug each of you in person for changing the world with me – who knows, maybe soon?!? I hope.

Here’s to making even bigger changes in 2016!

Happy New Year, 

Vani

P.S. I’m currently working on three big investigations – the ones you have been asking for!!! So stay tuned! I cannot wait. 

 

 

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68 responses to “The Exciting Changes The Food Industry Made in 2015 Because Of Us!

  1. Happy New Year and Congratulations on a very successful 2015!

    As I review your list of accomplishments, I had to wonder if Nestle and Hershey (and others who may be using) included in their list of “artificial” ingredients the horrific use of aborted fetal tissue for flavoring? Isn’t is documented that they have been using this for a few years now?
    I am also curious as to those companies who are organic and are using ingredients resulting from cloned animals? I haven’t seen much discussion on this issue – any long term studies on effects on humans?
    Thank you for being our voice in the marketplace! Your results speak volumes!

  2. This is great stuff. I wonder if for next year we could focus on helping small organic companies succeed, instead of correcting companies that are so far off.

    Another issue is the widespread use of canola, vegetable, and soy oil as the main cooking oil in restaurants. Most restaurants don’t even have extra virgin olive oil for salads, but a olive/canola blend or just canola. This even applies to high quality farm to table restaurants. How can we get more restaurants to use olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, or pasture raised organic butter? Would we need to make the public more aware so restaurants had to cater to public demand?

  3. Thank you for all your work. I am just being introduced to your website and the work that you do, having listened to you when you appeared at the Women’s wellness conference by David Wolfe. You are an inspiration to many people. its a great cause that you were involved in. I would like to post all of your accomplishments for 2015 on my Facebook page if that is OK. I have a Facebook group called living food lifestyle . I post tips, education and healthy recipes for my friends, it’s public. I was touched by 2015. Unbelievable that these big companies are listening and changing. Who would have thought?? Keep on keeping on. One if the questions from the audience at the conference was concerning children and schools. You can’t do everything but, in the same breath all the changes happening with General Mills and all other food like substances our kids are exposed to is a result of your work and you are touching children even if you’re not directly involved in schools.

  4. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate all of your hard work! Thank you so much! I have read other blogs who have tried to tear you down and dispel all of your research, calling you a fraud. I don’t understand how they can do that to you. It’s common sense that chemicals in your food cannot possibly be safe. Please continue what you do and know that there are more who are for you than who are against you. 🙂

  5. Several friends have referred me to this blog because for the past 20 years I have stated that our food, medication and even beverages were shortening our lifespan. Red Dye #40 was the first of many allergies that my kids and I were allergic to because it was in everything that we consumed. I understand and relate to the problematic issues with what the food and pharmaceutical companies are putting in their products. However, organic production has been around since my great-great-grandparents day. I grew up where organic food production was a choice that had nothing to do with pesticides and more with the cost of pesticides and the food tasted better:)
    Organic farming and food production percentage is about 5% or less of the overall production and farming of food, wheat, corn, etc. We are paying more than double for a piece of fruit because the label says “organic.” Not all “organic” food is truly organic – they just have to meet the minimal requirements for the label “organic” under FDA guidelines.
    Organic food is expensive. Organic farming is expensive and farmers are not compensated enough to grow organic. Beef is about the only area where ranchers or farmers see big dividends.
    Grass fed animals scare me because they eat EVERYTHING and unless that grassland is fertile grass and soil I have a hard time consuming “organic” beef, chicken or pork while all the time thinking what did they actually eat?
    I have a problem with livestock not being given antibiotics. Antibiotics for animals is the same as immunizations for kids. Kids who are not immunized generally get sicker and for longer. Speaking from experience when a totally selfish parent would not immunized her child causing my child and many other children to come down with whooping cough, which is one of the numerous diseases making a comeback, because her kids were not getting their proper childhood immunizations. I realize that parents have the right to refuse immunizations for their children but I have the right to protect my child as well.
    Do we live in a perfect society, no. But until our society can do away this “me or I” attitude and wanting everything immediately, i.e., fast food we won’t see a broad spectrum of anything changing especially in the food and pharmaceutical industry. Unhealthy food = increased medical conditions = more medications.
    I will say this blogger has a positive and common sense approach albeit one-sided but it never hurts to learn more about what we are putting in our bodies. As I have always done and will continue to do so, is READ the labels. My own kids get mad because they want to try something new but the ingredient list is full of chemicals. Try finding ONE food item in Skittles.

    1. If vaccines are so safe as you think they are, explain why there is a government fund for kids that have been damaged by vaccinations. Even the CDC took the blame for swine flu shots. They had flu shots that were contaminated with the swine flu virus. You have no idea what’s in these shots. And that was in the news. Everybody can’t take those vaccinations and they need to test to see who can and who can’t. And for the cows, if they weren’t forced to give milk all day then their udders wouldn’t get infected. Watched the documentary “Earthlings” the full documentary and you can see what’s really going on.

  6. Great work Food Babe. Let’s keep moving, full steam ahead. There is much more work to be done. We all deserve healthy food.

  7. Please do something about all the partially hydrogenated
    Oils in the pills bury products And since Monsanto
    Owes 80% of soybean crop let get soybean lethicin out of our cookies and breads
    Thank you,

  8. A lot of gluten-free and organic foods contain canola oil, yeast extracts, soy isolates, high sodium, etc. that are not safe to eat.
    Of course, a lot of large GMO companies bought out smaller organic companies such as Burt’s Bees, Earthbound Farm Salads, etc.
    Have you checked and /or contacted them to stop using these harmful ingredients and replace them with safer ones?
    Thanks for all you have done …you are a wonderful group for helping all of us to be healthy!

    1. Hi there, Betty.

      I was hired by Earthbound Farm’s founders 13 years ago and still work there. It’s been two years since we were acquired by WhiteWave — which is not a GMO company. In fact, WhiteWave is one of the biggest champions of a national GMO labeling law. But back to Earthbound. During my time at Earthbound Farm, I’ve seen a few ownership changes, but all along, we’ve held tight to our mission to bring the benefits of organic food to as many people as possible. We’re two years into joining WhiteWave and we’re the same organic farmers, the same organic farms and the same organic food as we were before that. I always applaud people like you who care about the food you put on your table and want to ensure that what you buy is healthy and aligns with your values. More people doing exactly what you’re doing is the only way we are going to have a material change to the food system. I only ask that you judge us by our actions and by our products rather than what you’ve heard or what you fear could happen. Thanks for caring!

      1. Thank you so much for this reply – we buy/eat Earthbound products and find the quality superior. I was going to be sorely disappointed to lose this product from my list of organics and will watch carefully for any changes going forward.

  9. Unfortunately McDonalds has just made it so people can not feed homeless with their food. I mean after you purchase the food what difference does it make who you give it to.

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