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This Childhood Favorite Has A Warning Label In Europe – Why Not Here?

Major Update: October 11, 2016 (See bottom of post)

Growing up, every time I would get sick, my mom would offer to make Jello. She thought it was easy on the stomach, like so many other moms out there. In grade school, I would get Jello almost every day either in my lunch via those cute little snack packs or in the lunch line. Into my early adult life, every time I would visit the local K&W cafeteria restaurant with my parents, I would choose Jello and put it on my tray right next to the other dessert I would get. The cafeteria restaurant categorized Jello in the same section as the salad, so logically Jello was just a side, right? Then when I was 22, as soon as my inflamed appendix was cut out of my body, I ate Jello at the hospital too. It was the only thing I could eat…so I thought.

I think it’s pretty obvious that Jello isn’t healthy to many of us that now read ingredient lists, however, I still think something isn’t clear to the majority because this Kraft product is still on shelves making big money. The information I want to share today will hopefully make it more apparent to everyone around us that Jello is one of the sorriest excuses for a treat – one that no one should be eating! Period.

Why is Jello still around?

Jello was losing market share about 10 years ago, so Kraft targeted their marketing of Jello to people following the Atkins diet by pushing their sugar-free puddings and Jello as acceptable snacks – and it worked.  Lots of people were buying up sugar-free Jello to satisfy their sweet tooth while on the Atkins diet and saying ridiculous things like “it’s a sweet cheat and it’s only 1 carb!”.  

Years later, it has somehow kept its reputation as a diet food.  I was flipping through a magazine yesterday and came across a recipe for a low-calorie “Faux Fondue” using sugar-free Jello chocolate pudding, as if it was a healthy alternative to real fondue. I’ve seen several other low calorie recipes on Pinterest that use Jello to make treats.  I even read that a food blogger was thinking about replacing one of her meals with sugar-free Jello to help her lose weight after hearing that it worked for John Malkovich.  That has got to be one of the unhealthiest ways I’ve seen to lose weight, so of course, I am going to send her this blog post.

Sure, sugar-free Jello is low in calories – but at what cost?

Now that Atkins has declined in popularity, Kraft announced that they changed their target – and are now targeting families with an advertising campaign that they call “Fun Things Up”. Dan O’Leary, Kraft’s senior director of marketing for desserts said, “The goal is to re-establish Jell-O’s ‘core purpose’ of ‘food for fun’…what Jell-O has that a lot of brands don’t have is that fun angle….In the ads, we’re really trying to play off the imaginative quality of the brand.” 

There is nothing “fun” about the ingredients in Jello.  

This is what you will really find in the average box of Jello:

Orange Jello

No-Fun Ingredient #1:  Artificial Colors

If you go shopping in Europe and find Jello on the shelves at the supermarket it has a big fat warning label on the nutrition label stating:

“May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”

Jello Europe Label

That should be enough information for you to put the product back down, but here in America, our government is co-opted by big food corporations like Kraft that fight these warning labels. Actually, Kraft knows their products that contain artificial food dye have risks for children, but still markets their products that contain them to children. It’s one of the most immoral and unethical practices I have ever seen. 

Removing artificial dyes from our food is so important, especially in light of the new Purdue University study showing the extreme amounts of dyes being used in everyday foods here in the U.S.  Sure, artificial colors have always been listed on the ingredient label, but now we know how much – and it’s astounding. The study data shows that a small ½ cup serving of Orange Jello contains 12.2 mg. of artificial colors, and that there are 9 mg. in the Black Cherry and nearly 7 mg. in the Strawberry flavor. This is more than they found in most Freezer Pops or 15 conventional gummy bears. They believe that with a combination of foods, kids “could easily consume 100 mg of dyes in a day”, which is well over the amount shown to cause reactions.  

Jello uses Blue #1 in several of their flavors.  This is one of the worst colors out there because it has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier and “in 2003, the FDA asked doctors to stop [adding Blue 1 to enteral feedings] since patients were dying, not from their disease, but from the Blue number 1, which apparently caused refractory hypotension and metabolic acidosis”.  But – the FDA still allows this “Fun” ingredient in Jello.

Another popular Jello product is their pudding mixes. I’ve already written extensively about Yellow #5 and Yellow #6, which are still being used in regular Kraft Mac n Cheese and in many Jello products. Check out the ingredients on this box of Jello instant pudding both sugar free and regular (there’s not much difference):

Jello Banana Creme

No-Fun Ingredient #2:  Artificial Sweeteners

One of the worst ingredients in this pudding is the artificial sweetener Acesulfame Potassium, which is sometimes referred to as “Ace-K”. It’s on the Center for Science in Public Interest’s list of ingredients to avoid, because not enough research has been done to show that it is safe to consume. Marvin Schneiderman, Ph.D., Former Associate Director of Field Studies and Statistics at the National Cancer Institute stated, “I find the actual studies and the data analysis seriously flawed. New tests, properly designed, executed, and analyzed are needed. The usual consequences of poor tests is to make it harder to find any effects. Despite the low quality of the studies reported to you, I find that there is evidence of carcinogenicity.” This ingredient clearly should not be in our food.

The other artificial sweetener in sugar-free Jello pudding is one that I avoid at ALL costs –  aspartame. According to the American College of Cardiology, a new study found a startling 50% higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease in women who regularly consumed two or more aspartame diet drinks per day. Another large study linked aspartame to an increased risk of lymphomas, leukemias, and transitional cell carcinomas of the pelvis, ureter, and bladder. The evidence has been mounting against aspartame for a very long time, but food manufacturers continue to use it. Check out this eye-opening 60 Minutes episode that aired in 1996 and exposed why aspartame was approved by the FDA in the first place – despite dangers found in safety studies and its link to brain tumors.

As if those aren’t enough reasons to steer clear of aspartame, don’t believe for one minute that it will help you lose weight.  Although it has no calories, artificial sweeteners have been shown to contribute to weight gain by encouraging sugar cravings – which is the complete opposite effect that most people would expect. This study showed that replacing sugar with aspartame simply increased hunger and the subjects compensated by eating more calories.   

No-Fun Ingredient #3:  Sugar

One serving of regular Jello contains 19 grams of sugar, which is the same as almost 5 teaspoons. This can really add up – and the amount of sugar consumption in this country is really out of control. A new study just came out which showed that childhood diabetes has skyrocketed with a shocking 30% increase in childhood type 2 diabetes from 2000 to 2009. This is a disease that was considered “adult onset”, but now is regularly diagnosed in children. Nearly all of the calories in Jello come from sugar alone, so it’s really no different than gelled sugar water. Another thing to consider is where that sugar comes from – and the answer may surprise you.  

No-Fun Ingredient #4:  GMOs

The sugar that is used in regular Jello is not specified as “cane sugar” and almost all “sugar” found in processed food in the U.S. comes from GMO sugar beets. So, it’s a pretty safe bet that the sugar in Jello is from GMO sugar beets. Also, the first two ingredients in sugar-free Jello pudding – modified cornstarch and maltodextrin –  are likely derived from genetically modified corn. Keep in mind that Kraft spent over $2 million dollars to fight GMO labeling in California and plans to sue Vermont in coming weeks – so they don’t want to tell us whether their products contain GMOs. Why should you care?   

According to GMO Myths and Truths: An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops and foods: ”GM foods can be toxic, allergenic, or have unintended nutritional changes” and “Researchers who publish studies that find harm from GM crops are attacked”.  I could go on, but I encourage you to read the full report written by John Fagan, Ph.D., Michael Antoniou, Ph.D., and Claire Robinson here.

No-Fun Ingredient #5:  BHA

Countries all over the globe have banned BHA and for good reason. Jello uses BHA (which is short for Butylated Hydroxyanisole) as a preservative. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies BHA as a possible human carcinogen and it’s been deemed a “reasonably anticipated human carcinogen” by the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, National Toxicology Program “based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity from studies in experimental animals”. There is no reason this ingredient belongs in our food, especially since Kraft has voluntarily removed it other countries. 

The only redeeming ingredient in Jello is gelatin (sort of)

To be honest, when I found out what gelatin was made from (animals bones) I was a bit disgusted – however – after really looking into it I’ve found that gelatin has some redeeming health benefits. You can easily make healthy Jello at home with organic fresh pressed juice and either grass-fed gelatin or organic porcine gelatin. Since it is an animal product, it’s crucial that you carefully choose your gelatin and that it doesn’t come from factory-farmed animals that were subjected to antibiotics, artificial hormones and GMO feed.  

You can also find better alternatives in pudding mixes, such as this European Gourmet Bakery brand that is organic (free of GMOs, BHT, and colors).  Keep in mind that this pudding is still high in sugar, so you don’t want to go crazy – save this for an occasional sweet treat. 

Also, you can use these recipes for homemade Jello from some of my favorite bloggers online here:

We need to warn our friends, family, schools and hospitals.

If you know someone who is still eating or buying Jello – please share this post with them. Does your child’s school still serve this horrible stuff? Or maybe it’s your local hospital? Send this post to them too. Spread the word about Jello like wild fire #FoodBabeArmy! That’s how we are going to put an end to this nonsense once and for all! 

Xo,

Vani 

Update: October 11, 2016

Back in 2014, when I shared this investigation above about the toxic ingredients in Jell-O and how disgusting it is that Kraft continues to make this product. Millions of children are exposed to Jell-O in schools and daycares across the country – not to mention all the sick people who are fed Jell-O in hospitals. This investigation has been read by millions of people since it was posted and the Food Babe Army spread the word. 

Jell-O is preserved with the harmful preservative BHA – an ingredient linked to cancer that is banned across the globe. The typical box of Jell-O is filled with GMO sugar and artificial colors like Red #40 that both require warning labels in Europe. These artificial colors are derived from petroleum and linked to behavioral problems in children. Kraft knows that artificial food dyes pose these risks, but still markets Jell-O to children. 

That’s why I’ve railed hard against their use of artificial colors and launched a successful campaign to get the artificial yellow dye out of their mac n’cheese. I just knew that if we targeted this popular product, that it would lead to greater change.

And it has! The snowball revolution keeps growing! 

Kraft just came out with a new line of Jell-O gelatins and puddings without any artificial food dyes or the preservative BHA…

OLD VERSION Jell-O OrangeSugar, Gelatin, Adipic Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Disodium Phosphate, Sodium Citrate, Fumaric Acid, Yellow 6, Red 40, BHA.

NEW VERSION Jell-O Simply Good Orange Tangerine: Cane Sugar, Gelatin, Dried Orange Juice, Adipic Acid, Disodium Phosphate, Sodium Citrate, Fumaric Acid, Natural Flavor, Oleoresin Turmeric and Beet Juice.People stopped buying Jell-O and look what they had to do! 

While this new version is not what I consider healthy, I can’t help but think about all of the children who will no longer be exposed to artificial colors and BHA due to this change. The less harmful and risky ingredients in our food supply, the better!

When we demand better, food companies have no choice but to change. 

Other major brands have made a commitment to remove artificial food dyes too! Everyone from M&M’s, Skittles, Starburst, Panera Bread, Lucky Charms, Trix, Campbell’s Soup, Pepperidge Farm, Swanson, Fruit Loops, Yoplait, Twizzlers, Apple Jacks, to Fruit by the Foot… the list goes on! It is going to take some of these companies a few years – but at least they are doing it. 

I truly believe that artificial dyes in our food will be ancient history in just a few years!  

Beware that the old toxic version of Jell-O with artificial colors and BHA is still in stores and this is just a new line that they have created – so continue to check the ingredient list on any product you buy!

My hope is that Kraft will make this change to their entire product line, including the pre-made cups of Jell-O gelatins and puddings that so many kids pack in their lunchbox every day. It’s a shame these products are even allowed to be sold in grocery stores – now that there is a safer alternative available.

Stay loud and keep making your voice heard – it’s working. Ask grocery stores for what you want and they will carry it. 

Thank you Food Babe Army for continuing to rock the food industry!

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235 responses to “This Childhood Favorite Has A Warning Label In Europe – Why Not Here?

  1. The point is, and the entire point of Food Babe doing what she does, is to allow consumers KNOWLEDGE via labeling/knowing what is in our food. If you choose to then continue to purchase it and consume it, so be it. But if she had her way, you’d at least KNOW what you’re putting in your body!

    1. All the consumer needs to do is look at the label. Then they are free to make a decision. They don’t need subjective propaganda to cloud their decisions. Reminds me of the friend I had that told me I was stupid for liking brussel sprouts because he didn’t like them. He was always able to come up with “good” reasons that they were bad for me.

      1. Again, that is the reason she does what she does. Too many food and bev products are NOT labeled or are not labeled properly, I.e., specifically regarding GMOs. Or also, for example alcohol products, like beer, wine and spirits. Ever see an ingredient label on any of those? You’d be shocked if you knew what additional ingredients are are in your favorite whiskey or tequila, for example…… She’s all about information, and then letting the consumer decide, or at least, that’s what I take from her blog.

        And who doesn’t like Brussels sprouts?? Clearly he’s never had them roasted! 😉

      2. How much information do you need Jules? Sounds de minimis to me. We are going to need to produce more food in the next 50 years than has been produced since the dawn of man. You think you can do that without GMO’s and still feed the world? Good luck to you. The green revolution was only the beginning.

    2. Fear mongering of any type should be eliminated. I myself enjoy the Jello products along with my kids and will still be doing so for many years. It is a very fun and tasty after meal dessert. And it is fat free.

      1. this is funny– it says “jello products” and touts being “fat free.” Clearly written by one of those hired commenters Vani has told us about. So fake.

  2. What’s interesting to me is Noone cared about any of this before the Internet people lived good wholesome lives, believed in a god, lived long happy lives eating jello eggs and so many other things that are bad one week and good the next might be time to get back to basics ….just saying

    1. My brother loved jello, he loved hard candy full of food dyes. He dyed at 47 from stomach cancer. The good old days of ignorance were not so good after all.

      1. my grandma loves jello and hard candy full of dyes, eats them every day, she’s 95

      1. what did Jello contain years ago? I was wondering what the ingredients use to be 100 years ago

    2. No one cared because no one knew. They don’t call the internet the “information super-highway” for nothing. And like the other commenter said, ingredients were probably way less artificial 25 years ago.

      1. Are you telling me that you actually believe everything that you read on this amazing internet “information super-highway?” Even the medical associates will tell you NEVER believe what you read on the internet. I agree that 25 years ago the ingredients in our food were less artificial but I have lived in Europe and some of the ingredients noted on the back of food packaging there are terrible, so don’t believe your “information super-highway.”

    3. No, these people have been around for 1000’s of years (Ayerveda) the internet just gave them (us) a taller “soap box”.

  3. Not all natural food colourings are fantastic for you either!!!
    #120 is made from squashing an actual bug and the eggs of the big that is found In The cacti plant. That is then put in ACID……
    I don’t call that healthy!!!

  4. I think knowledge is power in my day you listened to everything your dr said well my grandchild would be dead at this time if my son was like that you can’t take anyone’s word research needs to be done however if a website can let me know I mayneed to research something I took for granted in the past no one should have an issue with that and if you want to live like the good ole days take off your seat belts (come on we didn’t need those eitherl) eat your junk smoke your cigarettes like the good ole days and while your smoking roll up your windows cause we never worried about second hand smoke and look we are still here ( once again if your not you can’t let us know your gone because your parents were not aware of second hand smoke. Let us who would like better for our children and grandchildren then we had use our resources and research everything, I know a lot of us made it through the good ole days and the ones that didn’t are not here to let us know they wish they would have had this information back then . We think we use to be outside and safe well children were abused and kidnapped even back then (do your research ) we just didn’t know it was going on so we let our kids go into the wrong hands or trusted priests and coaches and most adults due to we were not informed. There are a lot if kids that was trusted to bad people cause it was the good ole days , I might be rambling but the good ole days were not that good to a lot if people and if you want to take that chance with your family I hope it works out for you I on the other hand will hold mine close and do my research and thank anyone who wants to let me know there may be some things that can avoid future pain and suffering for my family . Will I take their word for it no will I research it you better believe it. Oh one more thing m husband just went through three years of horrific injections due to a blood transfusion he received in the good ole days and got HEP C which is now chirrosis. He was ten years old when they didn’t check the blood boy I miss the good ole days

      1. that was my thoughts too, was getting breathless trying to read it, gave up in the end.

    1. Well said. The days of ignorance is what the not so good ole days were. When you know better, you do better.

    2. Hi there are some really awesome treatments(cures) for Hep C now. Check out sofosbuvir. Usually used in conjunction with something else. It’s incredible! I have watched people who’ve battled Hep C for many years only to be free of it. Best of Luck!

    3. Periods are not harmful to your health. You might try using more in your writing. Just sayin…

  5. We have unprecedented deaths from cancer. If that’s not enough to make you think about the chemicals everywhere in our lives start thinking about it. We used to dance in the mosquito spray when I was a kid, ate everything with the new chemicals, all the new fabrics chemicals produced, the smoking, the car exhaust, the chemicals in our homes. So many things and now we pay for it.

    1. It’s true. And I really try to avoid excess chemicals in our home, and eat as much whole/real food as possible (though I know my kids do get treats at school / church / friends houses…). However. The “unprecedented deaths from cancer” thing is part of living longer lives. We have time to die from cancer, because we didn’t die of an easily preventable / treatable disease.

  6. What’s a man suppose to do?? I just receive a email from my daughter regarding the “Food Babe” and the hazards of eating Jell-o and drinking diet cokes. She of course sent this to me as she knows that I consume package of Jell_o a day and drink diet cokes.
    Here’s my problem, I’m 73 years old with few if any vices, I don’t drink, smoke or gamble. The only vice I seem to have now is eating Jell-o and drinking diet drinks. I just became a Grandfather and I know my daughter as well as myself want to stick around for awhile. Now, due to the Babe, I will not be able to enjoy or possibly eat my Jell-O and have my cokes, especially in front of my daughter. What’s the right thing to do. I hope there is no such thing as second hand Jell-o.

  7. I think you should correct,on the “blue no.1″ part, where it says ” the FDA asked doctors” as I think you mean “doctors asked the FDA”

  8. I just wish they’d let Bill Cosby do their commercials again, then people would really see how bad it is.

  9. More proof of how our country cares less about our health.. so sad, especially since Jello is much loved by children. These companies don’t get in trouble because it’s hard to prove that cancer and other illnesses are derived from certain foods as so many things cause cancer today.

  10. I don’t get the logical progression from “stuff that makes up jello may or may not be good or bad for you” to “jello is toxic.” There are plenty of things we eat, like almonds or grapes, that have bits in them that are highly poisonous, yet we modify them somehow (genetically) or omit the poisonous bits (seeds, say), yet there’s no campaign to avoid toxic almonds or grapes. I also don’t understand the campaign against genetically modified foods. Aren’t all foods genetically modified for mass consumption? Having read up a bit on the topic, I found it interesting that there are literally no foods available to mankind that have not been genetically altered over the course of human history. As for the schtick about mysterious food corporate conspiracies, I’m not sure that labeling corporations as all evil can really explain how all thing big funny names on the ingredient list are therefore also evil. Where’s the data that links step by step showing that particular ingredients are conclusively dangerous, and then by extension that the end product (jello) is consequently also dangerous?

  11. Ms. Babe… Now that it has been a few years since the date on this article I am wondering if Jell-O ingredients are now safe (or any safer)? Thank you, The Dewd

    1. I’m also curious whether all gelatin is bad or just the Jell-O brand? There are other options and some research showing benefits from eating jello to hair, bones, nails, etc.

  12. Very informative post. Thank you for researching and publishing it. I just bought 2 packages of sugar free jello but, at home, noticed some ingredients were genetically modified. There were other ingredients that were questionable. That led to an internet search and your post. I will be discarding the 2 packages. BTW, when I read the posts basically saying you are wrong and people should continue eating the product, I wondered how many of these are shills for Kraft. Just saying….

  13. I doubt much is going to change anytime soon. Big food companies have those in the US believing these foods are not bad- and as a result people in the US ignore or don’t believe anyone who is saying these foods are toxic. I personally believe too much animal products (due to high saturated fats, sodium, and cholesterol- among much more) is not good for health no matter what the studies funded by animal product industries tell you. Foods with ingredients such as MSG, artificial colours, propolyne glyycol, polyethlene glycol, artificial/natural flavours, concentrates, emulsifiers, glyphosates, caramel colours, almost all added sugars, genetically modified organisms, BHA/BHT/TBHQ, among many many more are not good for health.

    I buy organic foods because it makes me feel so much better (no more excessive tiredness, more energy, clearer skin, no more body pains, among much more). Also many organic food brands have much stricter regulations when it comes to allergens- many of the brands I purchase do not have any of my allergens in the facility- and that’s truly a win win.

  14. Dear Vani Hari and all concerned about our health and the health of the planet,

    Thank you so much for other nasties definition and explanation thereof. You and all who read this except for the 1% who seem to cause this per books written by Mr. Jim Marrs need to read those books. Quite the eye opener! B4 I knew about this I proposed an international purity law for all! It also needs to protect the earth and all it’s inhabitants. I sought a law initially for the US but later realized it needs 2b extended. Do you have a complete list as up to date as possible till the law is written? I asked congress to pass a benefits for all law that makes us all equal, that no one can be above anyone else no matter what(only title for proper open two way guidance for all who inhabit the earth, man and non-man alike, that no war can ever be started, only diplomatically resolved. We can not ourselves perpetuate crimes against humanity like these secret societies, not all are bad mind you but the ones verified may be. Why would they want 2 poison anyone and publicly state that they want us dead or enslaved? They started every war since 1744 and have profitted handsomely off of it. They did not compensate any of us for any hardship including care! I want compensated for the loss of my great uncle in WWI! They also own and create chaos from the FRB like high inflation, recessions and more. They own outright the Federal Reserve Board. Read what Oswalds girlfriend/wife said where to find the killer of JFK. Also the 3 or 4 presidents that used the US TREASURY to borrow money from, find out what happened to them? Kennedy was one of them, Lincoln, etc. Nice folks, eh?

    Don Suiters

  15. Nothing is safe to eat. Homegrown veggies are grown in contaminated earth and watered with contaminated water. Organic food seems better but you know that in a few years they’ll find out that organic food has something bad.

  16. Bones and ligaments from cows and pigs??
    Disgusting!! There are other alternatives in the market that don’t involve animal products. No gelatin for me.

  17. I am so glad I came across your page as I have been reading about artificial sweeteners. I’ve been sugar free putting jello pudding mix in my yogurt since May and I am so sick. It has been progressive and I feel like I have been poisoned and my kidneys hurt. I will absolutely read labels from now on. I’m going back to honey and maple syrup.

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