Food Babe Kitchen - New York Times Bestseller - Header

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.

IMG_3697

I headed back to my hotel, where I was interviewed by the Chicago Tribune. The reporter grilled me – it was a lively debate and the article ended up having one of the best titles of day “Kraft served in mac ‘n’ cheese fight.”

Taste Test On The Streets of Chicago

To prove that the UK version of Kraft Mac & Cheese made with natural dyes was just as yellow and tasty as the US version, I held a taste test on the Chicago streets in front of the Jewel Osco Market on State Street. Even though Dr. Oz confirmed they virtually look and taste the same on his show, just as I did initially when I launched the petition, I felt like this exercise would be important to get the general public aware of the issue in Kraft’s own backyard.

We stayed at a hotel that had a kitchen, which I loved for personal reasons for preparing and eating healthy food, but the real reason we did this was to have the ability to make the UK version and store it in thermoses to keep it hot for the taste testing.

IMG_3731

When I got to the market with all the samples, I was swarmed by the media to the point of total distraction from the original intent. Reporters wanted to interview me at the same time I was trying to approach the public to participate in the taste test.  I tried to talk to as many people as I could with a tray of Mac & Cheese in the freezing cold weather. My fingers went completely numb even with gloves on! I was really surprised at how many people stopped to talk to me, considering the conditions. The comments and reactions were priceless – almost everyone said the UK version tasted great, they loved the color and couldn’t tell a difference, especially the kids. It was gratifying to know so many people, once they understood the issue, said they would choose the Mac & Cheese product without dyes too.

IMG_3735

Delivering The Petitions

After the taste testing, I headed to Northfield, IL, where Kraft headquarters is located, to deliver the petitions. There was a Whole Foods right across the street, which was really convenient! We stopped there to fuel up, I bought some tea, a green juice and a cookie (full disclosure!).

When it was time, we headed to the parking lot across the street from the Kraft Headquarters and parked at the CVS. I was greeted by some amazing readers of this blog and supporters of the campaign. These new friends I made are truly incredible warriors and voices, I was touched by their commitment, positive energy and support.

Everyone

We walked the boxes of 270,000 signatures across the street to the corner of the security entrance (technically on Kraft’s property) and set up on the side walk to give a speech on why I was there.  Pulin Modi from change.org who has been with us every step of the way introduced me…You can read the entire transcript of the speech here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After delivering this speech, we picked up the boxes and headed to the front gate. Immediately the security guard came out from the booth and gave me a clipboard to sign my name. She said, pointing at me, “you are the only one allowed in” and asked us to put the boxes down so they could be collected.

I didn’t quite understand the impact of what was happening at the moment – I kinda froze and then I looked around, screamed “YES!”, gave a hug to the team at change.org who have been with me from the start of this campaign and to the supporters who came out that day. I looked up at the sky and thanked God. I began to feel the magnitude of the over 270,000 voices I was representing. The letters from all the people and children harmed by these dyes went through my head. Tears of joy ran down my face – mascara went everywhere.

Before leaving with the security guard to be escorted to the front, I turned to the media cameras and told them “This is a monumental moment, people have been trying to get artificial food dye out of food for decades.” And thanked everyone who called that day. ABC in Chicago captured the moment here.

Then I proceeded to walk through the gate, escorted by security, where I was told I could take no pictures. I called two people on my walk in, Lisa Leake who started this petition with me and my husband. I also texted my Mom and told her “Kraft is letting me in”, she immediately wrote back “stay calm love.”

At security gate

The Power of Your Voice – The Food Babe Army

Before this moment, I didn’t have a scheduled meeting with Kraft, in fact, Kraft had refused to meet with me and ignored our requests to have a conversation about the petition for the entire last month. A few hours before heading to the headquarters, I posted a message on Facebook asking fans to call the headquarters on my behalf to ask Kraft to meet with me. I wasn’t the only one who did this, several other food advocates (and personal friends) shared this message with their fans too – The Cornucopia Institute, CEO of Nutiva – John Roulac, GMO Inside, Leah from Mamavation, Cheri from Label GMOs Hollywood, CSPI, Ann Marie from Cheese Slave, Max from Livingmaxwell, Lisa from 100 Days of Real Food, and countless other fans. I didn’t know at the time, but this tactic ended up being one of the most powerful social media events I have ever witnessed. Reading the comments on facebook was so inspiring, people were put on hold for over 10 mins and did not give up. Kraft eventually went from ignoring my emails and voicemails to finally deciding to meet. I believe the persistence and calls of supporters that day is what led Kraft to finally agree to sit down with me.

Here was the graphic posted and shared all over facebook that day:

KraftHQVisit

The Meeting: Behind Closed Doors with Kraft

Once in the building, I was introduced to Lynne Galia and Basil Maglaris from Corporate Affairs (not the CEO Tony Vernon or Head of Mac & Cheese Noelle O’Mara like I had requested) and we went to go find a conference room. Obviously they had not reserved a room for my visit so there was a bit of confusion trying to get a space to sit down and talk.

I asked for their cards, but they both didn’t have one on them (I wonder if it’s because they didn’t want me to have their phone numbers?)

I asked them if I could conference in Lisa, and they obliged. But first, they made it clear that I wasn’t allowed to tape record the meeting in any capacity and Lynne showed me her phone when she turned it off.

As soon as we began talking, they immediately reiterated their position in the previous letter they posted on their website and asked us if we had anything new to share with them. We asked why haven’t they listened to over 270,000 people demanding the removal of artificial dyes? And they said “we are listening and have 14 different options that do not have dyes.”

We explained our position about those 14 options.

  1. There are over 30 Kraft Mac & Cheese products that have artificial dyes, and the average consumer cannot tell the difference between the similar looking blue boxes to avoid dye. We asked if Kraft would consider a label change to be more clear but Lynne refused to entertain this idea.
  2. Kraft’s dye free options are not available at every grocery store, we cited examples including reader feedback from calls to customer service, reader pictures of various grocery store shelves, and my own experience earlier that day at Jewel Osco market in Chicago to prove our point. We explained there is not a version without dye in every grocery store side by side with the regular version. Lynn said in response that consumers have to read the ingredient label, then call the customer service hotline to find the products without dyes and can buy different versions on Amazon.com – I stated that is an unrealistic expectation to ask of most consumers, and how would they even know about the dye free option, if they have never even seen it in their stores or unaware of the health issues associated with dyes?
  3. The Kraft Mac & Cheese that is available in kid’s menus across the nation at various chain restaurants like Applebees, IHOP, and Bob Evans do not give a choice, all of those children who order off these menus receive Kraft with artificial dye.
  4. The majority of the 14 options (all but 1) are more expensive – sometimes twice the price of the original blue box. While the UK version is just 10 cents more than the regular blue box version – a reasonable difference consumers could afford.
  5. Many varieties of the homestyle versions of Mac & Cheese are totally different and do not compare to the original blue box Mac & Cheese. (For example, they have other additives like partially hydrogenated oils (a.k.a. trans fat), corn syrup and GMOs.) How is avoiding artificial dyes and eating other additives really a choice?
  6. Kraft’s dye free options are not the ones marketed toward children with cartoon characters and other sayings – Kraft currently offers no dye free options to children. I asked Lynne and Basil if they would consider offering a version of Kraft without dyes to kids, they declined to answer.
  7. Two of the options Kraft lists are dye free actually do have dyes if you buy the microwave version. Lynne claimed that only the “bag” version is dye free. We explained this was very confusing to the average consumer and unfair to the person who chooses to microwave their food vs. cook it over the stove. It also makes their “letter to fans” inaccurate. Basil wrote a note about this on his piece of paper.

FourCheeseHomestyle

BaconHomestyle

Lynne also reiterated that they are complying with the FDA laws and look to “scientists and regulators” when formulating their products. Which prompted me to ask “Why did Kraft spend over 10 million dollars during the last 5 years lobbying the FDA? And why does Europe require a warning label for these dyes?”

She didn’t answer the questions and looked visibly uncomfortable when I asked them.

Lynne said Kraft is listening to their customers who want to keep Mac & Cheese just the way it is. We asked her how Kraft defined the word “listening,” since there were over 270,000 people requesting the removal. We wanted to know who the people were that want artificial dyes in their food? She couldn’t answer that question – so we asked “How do you define “listening” – and she explained that the people who are still buying the product (i.e. the people who don’t know about this issue yet) are the ones they are listening to – in other words, we explained – you are listening to your sales of Mac & Cheese, the bottom line, correct? And she nodded.

I realized the tone of the meeting from the get go, wasn’t very positive, but I stayed on message and asked pointed questions, sometimes asking the same question two and three times to see if we could get answer…

One of the questions I asked repeatedly was this:

Why did you reformulate Mac & Cheese without artificial food dyes overseas but not here? And why did Kraft do it for almost the entire line of products including, Lunchables, Trident, Halls, Pillsbury, and Ritz Cheese Crackers? Artificial food dyes are still allowed in Europe – but you reformulated them there? Why?

I just wanted to hear the answer as I understood it. We know Kraft did it to avoid the warning label that is required in Europe when a product uses artificial dyes and wanted them to be honest and admit this but neither of Kraft’s representatives wanted to answer the question truthfully and said “I don’t know” each time we asked those questions. At one point I asked to speak to the person in charge of the UK version of Mac & Cheese, and Lynn said that was her territory, but she didn’t know the answer to our questions, so I asked – who does know the answers? Can we talk to them? She refused my request.

Lynne, exhausted from having to answer “I don’t know” several times during the meeting, said she “might” consider following up on that question.

Hearing, that we weren’t going to get the action from Kraft we wanted, I asked if we could set up a follow up meeting in 2 weeks to get answers to our questions, and see if we could stay in touch regarding this issue and whether any progress is being made at Kraft towards removing artificial dyes. Basil said “2 weeks is arbitrary” and Lynne, added “In 2 weeks -our position will be the same.”

We asked Lynne and Basil if they fed their kids Mac & Cheese and what versions they choose. Both of them answered several different versions including the ones with dyes, and Basil mentioning his family likes adding extra cheddar cheese (likely Kraft brand) to the boxed versions.

Towards the end of the meeting, I asked if Kraft was planning to eliminate the dyes anytime in the future, and if it was on their radar (considering they said in June 2012 they were looking into replacing artificial dyes with more natural options.) If Kraft was not ready to talk about it, we offered to back off. I even proposed to keep any of their plans to remove the dye private until they were ready and ignore media who was waiting outside. We handed them a carrot, but they didn’t bite. Instead, Lynne offered that she couldn’t “predict the future” and ultimately left the meeting saying she believes “Kraft is making the right choice” and “we have to agree to disagree.”

At the end of the meeting – Lynne claimed that she was taking our concerns and unanswered questions to other colleagues but I noticed she didn’t take any notes during our meeting. Her notepad was left entirely blank, while I had taken over 3 pages of notes.

After the meeting, I was walked to the main gate by security, and to my surprise, the boxes of petitions were still there. I found it comical that they left them out there for so long considering all the employees coming in and out of the building.

IMG_3751

The supporters who came out that day waited over an hour for me to return from the meeting – it was an incredible feeling having them greet me at the end of the meeting. A video from Progressive Illinois captured what I said and shared at that moment here.

Result: Kraft’s Brand Damaged, Boycotts Ensue

Kraft made a very calculated move to sit down with me. That was one thing they did right to avoid further criticism. Could you imagine the backlash from the media if they didn’t accept the 270,000 petitions we delivered to their front door?

However, as you can see from the results of the meeting, Kraft continues to be in denial. One of my mentors stated that getting inside Kraft’s headquarters is indicative of the food industry berlin wall falling one pebble at a time…The potential brand damage that Kraft could suffer from not listening to concerned customers is tremendous – just use google news to google kraft mac & cheese and you can see what I’m talking about. I truly believe down the road, Kraft will make this change. We’ve seen this denial over and over again, companies say no a few times, before they say yes – especially when their decisions start to hurt their bottom line.

Readers, fans and supporters have already started to vote with their dollars and have stopped buying not only Kraft Mac & Cheese, but all of Kraft’s Products. If you’ve been following me for sometime, you know this – I personally haven’t bought anything from Kraft (except the Mac & Cheese I had to for this campaign) since they gave 2 million dollars fighting against our right to know and labeling of genetically engineered foods.

Kraft Boycott

Trust me when I say this is not over and we have a lot of creative ideas planned to keep this pressure on and want you all to be even more involved!

Please make sure you sign up for my email list to stay up to date and follow me on facebook and twitter. Keep sharing this petition. And most importantly, keep talking to your friends and family about why they should not be consuming these artificial, petroleum-based dyes.

We can do this together – I know it.

Thank you!

Food Babe

 

Food Babe Kitchen - Book
Food Babe Grocery Guide

Sign Up For Updates

And Get A FREE Healthy Grocery Guide Sent To You Now!

Find out what to buy and where at the top grocery stores near you

Posts may contain affiliate, sponsorship and/or partnership links for products Food Babe has approved and researched herself. If you purchase a product through an affiliate, sponsorship or partnership link, your cost will be the same (or at a discount if a special code is offered) and Food Babe will benefit from the purchase. Your support is crucial because it helps fund this blog and helps us continue to spread the word. Thank you.

246 responses to “The Inside Story On My Visit To Kraft Headquarters

  1. I just wish we could educate more people that are not on real food living yet!

  2. I’m almost afraid to ask; what’s bad about the cream cheese? I’ve been trying to eat A LOT healthier since last Summer (health reasons), but I was already trying to eat healthier before that. Cheese is probably the one area that is still tricky for me when it comes to “processed” or “not processed” food items. (other areas still not perfect, but I’m working on them….)
    Thank you for all the hard work & research & info.

      1. Forks over knives is more propaganda than science. I would say if you want to eat cream cheese, stick to a brand that uses milk from pastured cows or at least without rBGH added.

      2. Your creme cheese has gone to your brain! Forks Over Knives is anything but propaganda it’s all based on science where they explain in the documentary all the population studies, all the people who were tested and very strict study participation requirements. The whole movie is about 2 medial researches who did not know each other that amazingly came to the same conclusion… IF IT DOES A HOP, SKIP, SWIMS, HAD A MOM OR DAD DO NOT EAT IT!!!

      3. Forks over Knives is certainly not propaganda. Vegans and people who eat a plant-based diets know that dairy is extremely addictive – cheese is probably the most difficult thing for people to give up. There are many other studies and the scientific aspects. And then there’s the cruelty aspect.

      4. I call it propaganda because the general public tends to believe anything that sounds somewhat scientific without actually looking at the studies. Ancel Keys, any one? If you compare a vegan diet to the standard american diet, of course it’s healthier. However, the vegan diet includes many grains and soy — not health foods by far.

      5. John, I have yet to find an example of a traditional human society that has had long term success with a vegan diet. No thanks!

      6. The three longest lived cultures in the world survive on diets that consist of getting over 90% of their calories from plant-based foods. Our meat, dairy, and sugar consumption have increased greatly over the last century, and the number of diseases has increased right along with it. Like Michael Pollan says, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” and “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”

    1. To Alex….you may want to download Fooducate app to really understand what you’re eating. It is also how I found out about the wonderful work that Foodbabe and so many other advocates are doing.

    2. Isn’t it because it is a Kraft product, and we should quit buying all Kraft brands until they start listening to us? Although I’m sure the Kraft cream cheese is from cows with the extra hormones added in.

    3. Cream cheese is processed unless you make it yourself. Real cheese will have “rennet” as an ingredient and salt. Then you know it is fermented. Otherwise it is fake cheese.

  3. I think what you do is great and since you have the eye of the mainstream media I would like to see you go after geoengineering (chemtrails). It is good to get the unnatural things out of our food but with all the stuff they are spraying in the sky I am not sure what good it is going to do to get the yellow dye out of mac and cheese. Everything is affected by the spraying, food, water and the air we breath. If we don’t stop the spraying not much else matters.

  4. Food babe thank you so much for your work on this issue. I totally support it. Mi noticed when we visited Australia foods that were brands in US were formulated differently.

  5. Thanks for your efforts! Our house switched to Annie’s naturals for the occasional Mac & cheese and never looked back! Screw Kraft!

  6. Thank you, Vani for your commitment to this issue and boldness to persist for change in the food industry. Blessings to you!!

  7. Thank you very much for having all the foods associated with Kraft on your website. I don’t eat most of those foods, but I occasionally eat the mustard and the hot sauce. I had no clue they were owned by Kraft. Since I want to boycott all products that Kraft benefits from I will no longer purchase them.

    Thanks!
    Donna Wallach

    1. Second this! Had no clue Grey Poupon and Gevalia were associated brands. I stopped buying Gevalia a while back in favor of organic beans, but I use the mustard in recipes and on grilled items in the summer, so time to either find a new brand or make my own I guess. Thanks, Vani, for the continuing health education!

  8. Goodbye Kraft. You could have met with representatives of the people, but you chose instead to demand obeisance instead of honesty. Your negativity will put you out of business.

  9. This has made me want to investigate the Canadian version of Kraft mac n cheese since my family and I visit up there often. My husband (the Canadian) says theirs is different – tastes better – than the US version. Either way, I wind up making homemade mac n cheese most of the time. Thanks for taking such a bold stance against a HUGE corporation. I will be keeping up with this. 🙂

  10. Vani,

    You’ve listed a number of products in your boycott that are actually no longer part of the Kraft portfolio:

    Stride, Trident, Halls, Ritz, Cadbury, Nabisco, Wheat Thins, Sour Patch Kids, belVita, Chips Ahoy, Oreo, Honey Maid, Bubblicious, Dentyne, Toberlone, Swedish Fish.

    All of these brands belong to an entirely different company that separated from Kraft last October (Mondelez International).

    I am in 100% of this petition against Kraft, but I just think it’s unfair that another company that is no longer associated with Kraft is listed in your boycott.

    1. Thank you for this update. Too bad they still own A1. It’s the only thing on the list I have a hard time giving up

      1. They are both owned by the same it was just a name change. They split so each could focus on their specialties.

  11. Thank you so much for giving our children a voice!!!! I have started making the Mac and chess off Lisa’s website and it is now our family favorite! No more chemicals…period. Kraft is driven by money and not health 🙁 Shame on them!

  12. Thank you for dong all this hard work. And, remember, it wasn’t just 270,000 names on the petitions, but the additional names in those families. I have a family that includes three girls and a hubby which makes a total of five people not eating kraft Mac and cheese in our house. I truly feel change will come not by kraft, but by the consumers. The more education that is out there (which you are helping our family with every day), the more their sales will drop.

  13. “Doing the right thing”? Really, I can’t believe she would say that. With a straight face. I wonder if those two still feed their kids the blue box?

    1. So funny!! I was thinking the exact same thing…… I would LOVE to know if they not only eat this product but would they feed it to their kids??? Corporate America is awful and ALL they care about is their bottom line, they could care less that these products contain chemicals that are not meant for human consumption…… I will be boycotting ALL Kraft products!!

      PS: Thank you Foodbabe for speaking up for us!! Very much appreciate all of your hard work!!

  14. We need more people like Food Babe!!!! Your efforts have empowered me to do everything I can to avoid buying these kinds of products. I also take the time to call companies and ask them specific questions about their ingredients – and when I get answers (which is rare) I tell them I’m telling all of my friends and family to not buy their junk!!!!

  15. We generally try to avoid processed foods in our home, but this is another reason why we’ll be sticking with Annie’s Mac & Cheese for our kiddos!

  16. This is just another point of view. I do not disagree with argument that foods containing dyes are unhealthier than natural foods. However, there are many products to choose from. Grocery stores operate the same way that manufacturers do in regards to listening to consumers. They use the “bottom line” and what sells. If you want options of products at your grocery store you have to contact them. They choose what to put on their shelves and offer to the customer. I think it is great that this organization is lobbying for healthier foods. However, the 270,000 petitions may be a skewed number. How large is this number in comparison to the number of people that buy this mac and cheese? It is a very large number to most of us, but in comparison to the number of consumers it may be very small. Let’s not forget that we have the right to choose what we ingest and feed our children. If Kraft is telling you that the bottom line is what sells and you want to see a difference then help educate people on what to look for and how to inform their local grocer of the options. Affect the sales of the product and change will come.

  17. While I think it’s great that this woman had the courage to take on Kraft it seems that she is focused in the wrong direction. She’s worried about artificial color (rightly so) but why would she want to feed this industrially processed “food-like” product to her kids in the first place? And what about the partially hydrogenated oils and the caramel colors among the other numerous unhealthy ingredients? Kraft M&C is simply junk food and any food or drink that contains artificial color is unhealthy. Too many Americans are focused on getting the cheapest food on the table (or TV tray!) as fast as possible and eating it too quickly. REAL, unprocessed foods are healthy, nutritious and delicious. Industrially Processed Food will NEVER be better than a home-cooked meal made from REAL ingredients. Everyone has heard the saying that you are what you eat…what a frightening thought for those who consume processed foods!

    1. Sigh…I’m so tired of people saying this. I understand that this petition is probably attracting a lot of new people to the blog, but anyone who’s been a reader for a bit knows that Vani and Lisa DON’T feed this stuff to their kids. (I don’t think Vani even has kids?) They know perfectly well that it’s junk, as do most of us on here. THEY ARE CONCERNED ABOUT PEOPLE OTHER THAN THEMSELVES. A lot of people DON’T know that dyes are a problem or can’t afford to pay a little more for the expensive organic brands. They’re doing this for the kids whose parents don’t know any differently, the kids who order this stuff at restaurants or get it at a friend’s house…the people who can’t do it for themselves. They DO vote with their dollars, as do I. I’m lucky that I can afford to feed myself the way I want. But I don’t just care about myself. Thankfully, neither do these ladies.

      And I mean…I feel like we have a chance of winning such a small request. If we attacked Kraft with a long list of requirements (no additives! no GMOs! raw cheese from grass-fed cows!)…yeah. No. Not a thing would happen. Removing food dye is a small step and won’t make it a health food, but is a small, important step for the food industry here in America. Once we accomplish that and raise awareness, who knows what else we’ll have the influence to change. Small steps, everyone. Patience. Change is coming.

      1. Also Kraft changing their mac and cheese would most likely lead to store brands following the same trend. Which impacts even more people.

  18. I love the level of detail you have – the facts you were able to throw out at the meeting really took them by surprise! Especially the part about lobbying the FDA – CRUSHED them. Fantastic job!

  19. Vani, thanks you so much for taking on Kraft! I live in the Chicago suburbs and wish I had known you were going to Kraft on Monday so I could have come out to support you. You actually stopped at my Whole Foods store. Keep up the fight. It’s so worth it.

    Shari
    Wilmette, IL

  20. I’m so proud of you Food Babe! We need to expose these large food corporations who have no regard for human health & put an end to their production of carcinogenic foods. Thank you!

  21. Sadly, it is the poor who are eating the most of this type of garbage food. I’m sure you didn’t know but they are actually doing a study here in the Chicagoland area to see if giving the poor black people (yes they were specifically targeted for this research) access to organic food will lessen the autism, ADD, and other harmful diseases. One organic store specifically involved in the study is an organic store in Park Forest that offers organic stuff just like Whole Foods at a much cheaper cost. You can volunteer in order to pay off your $30 membership fee or apply for charity to get the fee waved. I’m not sure who is doing the study. I’ve heard rumors that it is the IL health department. The study was fueled by the results from this study: http://www.joe.org/joe/2006april/a2.php done by University of IL Chicago.

  22. I appreciate your efforts so much! It has become a full-time job to keep up with what is going on with food in order to keep my family safe and healthy. It’s very frustrating. I want very clear labeling and I want these companies to start taking responsibility. I wish everyone had the knowledge and buying power it requires to not poison your bodies. Anyway thank you so so much Food Babe!

  23. Thank you for taking this on! I wanted to comment on what you said about restaurants serving Mac and Cheese. It is interesting to note that many restaurants have a homemade mac on the adult menu. I went out with my husband and daughter last week and asked the waitress if the adult mac & the kids “Kraft” mac was the same. She replied that the mac and cheese on the kids menu (for $6!) was instant mac -which means microwaved…- but not on the adult menu where you can order a side for $2.50. needless to say, we ordered the adult side for our 2 year old. My kids love Mac and Cheese and other kid food like ketchup, too bad their mother tells them that these items have bad ingredients in them so cannot have them when we are not at home. I am starting to carry around my own homemade or organic store-bought versions of condiments when I know we will be eating out.

  24. Awesome work Vani!!!! Glad Lisa could get to be conferences in too! Thank you thank you thank you!!! Keep up the excellent work!!!!!!!! You are doing great things for us all!!! From a grateful consumer, Wife and Mom! Sherra

  25. Thank you so much, Food Babe! Your efforts are truly inspiring. Canada unfortunately takes cues from American companies, rather than take proactive measures,so to see such encouraging work gives me hope that we will soon follow your lead! Much gratitude!

  26. This whole campaign got started because of a study (or studies) showing a correlation between child hyperactivity and artificial food dyes.

    Have NATURAL food dyes been subjected to the same level of scientific scrutiny? Are there studies that look for a correlation between child hyperactivity and natural food dyes?

    If not, you can’t really say that they’re any better for your than artificial food dyes are.

      1. Odd … I posted a reply to this, which showed up this morning, but it’s disappeared.

        I’m a little worried because I was basically arguing that natural ingredients haven’t been subjected to the same level of scientific scrutiny — at least for their possible bad health effects — as artificial ingredients have been.

        I’m just hoping that my comments were deleted because someone at the top disagreed with them….

      2. Natural colors fall under GRAS status since they have a few thousand years of use behind them, ha, ha . . . haven’t you ever stained your hands cooking with beets or turmeric and lived another day?

      3. Yes, natural colors have been classified as GRAS. The thing is, artificial colors are also classified as GRAS. GRAS does not mean the product has undergone any kind of real testing for subtle health effects. Yes, annato and turmeric and paprika have had centuries of use — but so did the practice of Bloodletting back in the late middle ages. Just because it doesn’t kill you doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

      4. Turmeric and beets precede bloodletting, not sure what your point is here. I am sure modern medicine will have its therapies that will one day be considered cruel and useless (Vioxx, anyone?)
        If you turmeric and beets are not studied enough to your satisfaction, why not conduct your own research? This kind of research often begins with anecdotal evidence, why not survey all your friends and neighbors and then doctors in your community? Do something you find worthwhile and let us know how it goes!
        I was mocking GRAS status, BTW.

  27. Thank you for all your hard work. At the very least consumers are being educated as to what is in their food, and that is something! I have a feeling Kraft will eventually come on board, but it will be a little to late. We certainly are done with them!

  28. Loved the taste testing in Chicago. Imagine if we could do this in all 50 states…. the media attention, the increase in petition signatures, etc. Change is coming. Thanks for leading the charge!

  29. I grew up on mac n cheese, and turned out healthy as can be. If I’m considering making a change, I’m not going to change the food I grew up on. My family has a history of living long and strong. Call it what you will, stick with what has worked since before you were born.

    1. I agree with your stance for the most part, but understand that we’re in the minority nowadays. There is a HUGE push to assume that anything artificial is automatically bad, and to jump on even the slimmest scientific evidence for possible ill-effects as being all the “definitive proof” needed to reject an artificial ingredient.

      If we were to reject everything artificial out of hand, we’d be faced with a lot more diseases that could otherwise have been cured by, say, tetracycline.

    2. It is foolish to assume the ingredients are the same today as they were when you were a kid. I hope you still have an old box around so you can compare it to today’s ingredient list.

    1. If you live near a Martin’s or Giant food store, they have a Nature’s Promise brand of organic boxed mac and cheese – without the dyes (and without a lot of other nasty preservatives as well). Of course, it’s not ideal (with the powdered cheese and all), but it’s a much better alternative.

  30. Wow, I could feel the emotion in your post. What you have been working so hard on is coming together. Congratulations for getting through the door! Sorry you got such a stone-faced response. Change is a slow process. All this press must be educating more people. Keep up the good work.

  31. Vani, you are my hero! Its really heartening to know that someone who may very well be my neighbor (I live near Charlotte) can make such a HUGE difference! I’m doing all that I can to spread the word… perhaps we should go guerilla style with this and label GMO foods and artificial dyes on Kraft boxes (and other brands…) since they wont do it voluntarily!

  32. Glad I read this! Who knew Gevalia is a Kraft food! I will return the coffee I bought today on sale 🙂 You are an inspiration!

  33. Vani, whether you felt like you were effecting change in the meeting with Kraft or not, I believe you are making a difference, planting many seeds. The media is listening and spreading the word. Many of us, your comrades in arms, are reading, responding, making calls, signing petitions, discussing and sharing all this great information with those around us. And the message is spreading. Keeping the cause fresh, intriguing and visible to the public and the media is key to winning the war. Your enthusiasm and message are gaining and maintaining attention, even if Kraft execs pretend to be unmoved by it all. Keep up the great work and prepare for harvest! 🙂

  34. What a shame. This was a good opportunity for Kraft to make a big show of “listening to their customers”. While you and I both know that nothing would likely change, they could have garnered some good PR out of it. I have not bought anything from Kraft (or really any of the large food corporations) for a couple years. So the only effect their refusal has on me is to further spread the word about their lack of care for my family’s health and encourage others to boycott Kraft as well. They admitted that they care about their bottom line – not at all about nourishing our children. People are waking up. Soon, Kraft will be on its way to the bottom.

  35. Thank you Vani and Lisa for not only what you are doing but keeping us updated. After looking at the brands from Krafts site, I calculated approximately how much retail product I have in my home. Keep in mind I purchase groceries for TWO households PLUS donations. This is only my home’s accounting: $532 (I stock up when there is a good sale). So double this to incorporate the other home and various food pantries I donate to (last years food donations totaled over $5,000 alone).

    ***** Kraft: say goodbye to my business totaling (easily) over $15,000 a year. ******

    Brands I have: Kraft BBQ sauce, crystal light (12 on hand for guests), boca (purchase no less than 5 at a time) toblerone, bakers, trident, Gevalia (13 currently), Oreo, grey poupon, premium saltines, planters (nuts and peanut butter– and I just purchased 13 jars at a recent sale), a-1 sauce, Philly cream cheese (just purchased 10!), nutter butter, country time (10 on hand for guests), maxwell house, jet puffed marshmallows, halls, jello (gelatin and pudding), Kraft cheeses (shreds and chunks), Starbucks (over 10 bags in freezer and purchased from the grocery–I will now purchase from stand alone Starbucks or order from their website), stove top, Triscuits (while my favorite and an item ALWAYS in my pantry by the 10’s, will find a recipe I can make myself even if they aren’t Triscuits!!)

    Repeating:
    ***** Kraft: say goodbye to my business totaling (easily) over $15,000 a year. ******

  36. I can honestly say that only one Kraft product remains on our grocery list from Kraft now and that it is the sugar free/salt free peanut butter that only my husband eats – we will definitely be looking for other peanut butters to replace this with! Goodbye Kraft! I will happily support this initiative by sharing this post with so many others! Thanks Food Babe for lighting the fire and being a voice for so many of us (in Canada as well!).

  37. Thank you so much for everything you do regarding food policy and politics. I’m so happy to know that you are able to do this full time now! I know how much energy and time it takes me to just do the small advocacy that I can in my area, so I truly appreciate the force you’re able to be. Thanks for not only being a voice for us, but for inspiring a lot of us to also find our voices in this battle 🙂

  38. Food Babe, you are awesome! Really appreciate all that you stand for. I blogged about you today and even borrowed one of your photos from your epic day with Kraft and the Media. I admire what you’re doing and will follow you closely! [email protected]

  39. Should Foreign IT companies assimilate US business priorities at this time?
    USA has been losing competitiveness; productivity is low as well as economic development, most of the population is living on welfare at this time. Productivity is the main issue in the American companies to survive in this economic situation, It companies should compete giving productivity achievements instead of only giving IT connectivity.
    The way US companies can achieve it is doing a reengineering in the ERP worldwide for American companies themselves, train US University graduates with at least one module related to their careers and develop each one of the modules with the latest mathematical models in that particular field, integrate all the modules scientifically and re- start over again the implementation of the ERP in American companies. Keep SOX, American accounting, and internal control models used in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering, all of them using the latest mathematical models for each economic sector and industry; they must be published in Research articles, as always the increase of productivity is the main target.
    At the same time, it is necessary to define a new business World Order, to be protected against illegal and unfair business practices by the BRIC countries, considering go to international legal trials if it is necessary. The extension of NAFTA to Europe, Asia and LATAM is only a matter of time while China and India are undecided to be part of it or not, for us it is convenient that these countries should be part of it to have really a legal competition in the Free Trades. Productivity is the main concern at this time to contract a IT integrator or any consultant, we need economic development.
    There is a need of new business models that keeps the American Dream alive because of the devastation of medium and small IT American companies by the foreign socialist and communist monopolies located in the States. CEO of most of the companies should be hired American citizens coming from BRIC countries in high top positions or replace them to really compete in the global markets with US interest.

  40. I’ll never buy another of their items irrespective of future changes they are forced to make. Problem is solved for me!

  41. You ROCK! So happy to see the baby steps you are taking to help our kids and food choices in general in the US. Just wondering how you were able to purchase the UK brand? I looked on Amazon but was unsuccessful. Would love to get some shipped here….or maybe the Canadian version is similar to the UK version? Thanks if you have time to post a response (or anyone else with the info)

  42. I rarely purchase Kraft products anyhow, but now I will make a concerted effort to avoid them. Thanks for what you do. 🙂

  43. Come on…What can you accept from a junk food company?… They don’t care about people’s health, they only care about money…. Probably it’s a few cents cheaper to produce that junk with artificial dyes…
    You can buy lots of organic mac & cheese, if you want something healthier… Forget that brand!
    Amys kitchen has lots of great organic mac and cheese products… It’s a few cent more expensive, but it’s worth it, it’s your health…

  44. In order for this boycott to be effective, we must petition the government to get the dyed version off food stamps. That would actually hit them and force change.

  45. I agree with Csaba, Kraft is NOT food anyway. I would never buy their brand for my family… especially mac & cheese in a box. Chemicals, GMO flour, artificial everything. Its funny that they want to be sure to keep the orange color, which I like to call nuclear orange. !! When my kids want mac and cheese, I try to buy organic Trader Joes and Annies ( I to stick with gluten free) and I add my own cheese and even some plain yogurt. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

food babe with grocery cart - footer image