Kraft drops artificial food dyes following Food Babe-led petition

Kraft macaroni & cheese
Kraft announced today that it will remove artificial dyes from a few of its macaroni & cheese products.
Credit: Flickr / ginnerobot

In March, Vani Hari, also known as Food Babe, embarked on a mission: Hari wanted to convince Kraft Foods to stop using harmful artificial food dye in their iconic yellow Kraft Macaroni & Cheese products. Today, that dream became a reality when Kraft announced that it would stop using these dyes in three macaroni and cheese products, reports the Associated Press. The change applies to three of the products in the Macaroni & Cheese line: SpongeBob Squarepants, Halloween and winter shapes, but not the classic elbow shape.

Kraft told the AP that it plans to replace food dye with spices, like paprika, and that the new recipe is not in response to Hari’s massive Change.org petition and that it simply wants to improve the nutritional profile of its products. Still, Hari brought the issue to national attention when she went on media outlets like “Dr. Oz,” “Good Morning America” and CNN among others to discuss the harmful effects of artificial food dyes. She received more than 348,000 signatures on her petition and was flooded with letters from concerned parents. Metro interviewed Hari about her victory.

Metro: Congratulations! How did you feel when you found out about your victory?

Hari: I was really happy because I knew this change wasn’t going to happen overnight. This is a huge corporation, and this is one of their biggest products. This is their way of listening and I’m so incredibly honored to be a part of this change for the food system and represent 348,000 people.

What is your next move? What else do you want Kraft to do?

I’d like them to remove artificial food dyes from all their products and honestly other U.S. corporations as well and across the whole industry. I plan on holding them accountable and other companies accountable by advancing awareness on my blog as much as I can about the issue. I’ll never forget why I started the petition. I was outraged when I found out they still use these dyes in North America and they don’t in Europe because of safety concerns. I want to hold these companies accountable for this double standard.

[Metro's note: Food dyes like Yellow 5 and 6, part of Kraft's Macaroni & Cheese formula, require warning labels or are sometimes even banned in other countries, especially in Europe. Kraft sells a different version of the product in Europe without food dyes.]

Can you remind us of the harmful effects of artificial food dyes?

They come from petroleum and so the way they’re produced means they can be contaminated with carcinogens. That’s the main concern for all people, whether you’re a child or not, that you have with this substance and food supply. The second thing is their link to asthma allergies and skin rashes and the most alarming thing that’s been proven over and over and why they created a warning label in Europe is their linkage to hyperactivity in children and behavior in children. In Europe, whenever an artificial dye is used, it says, “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.

You’ve said before that you’ve received hundreds of letters from parents about the petition. What have they written to you?

The letters I’ve gotten have been absolutely heartbreaking. They describe how once they figured out how artificial food dyes affected their families, the removal of them helped with behavior problems in school and the ability to focus in school. One lady in particular said her daughter’s eczema completely went away. She was diagnosed at three months and at 14 was able to stop her eczema after over 11 years of suffering.

Parents also write to me about how artificial food dyes exacerbated all of the associations and adverse affects of autism and autistic children. I hear from parents saying they removed artificial food dyes and these crazy tantrums from their children would be eliminated. What was so upsetting to me is that there are so many more families suffering from eczema and hyperactivity in children and they don’t even know they can eliminate this one ingredient and it can have such a profound impact on their health. The campaign and awareness the petition created was invaluable. You can’t even put a price on how many people became aware and started to remove food dye and feel better, and now that Kraft is listening to me and 348,000 people it’s a really great first step but they have a lot more work to do.

Is it OK to eat Kraft Mac & Cheese now?

I’d love for the removal of genetically engineered ingredients and any dairy that is included that may have growth hormones in it. It’s a processed cheese product and the ingredients could have contamination from milk that have growth hormones and antibioitics. After that, it would be an OK product with no genetically engineered ingredients or dairy products. I have a wonderful new recipe on my website that shows how to make macaroni and cheese without harmful additives.

Why did you petition Kraft in particular?

Kraft is one of the largest food companies here in America and it was a product so many children and families eat every single day. It’s something I grew up with and it’s something I think everybody could relate to when raising awareness about these petroleum-based artificial food dyes.

Learn more about Vani Hari’s work on her website, FoodBabe.com and follow her on Twitter: @TheFoodBabe.

Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

PHOTO: New Zealand Heral uses wrong image to…

The New Zealand Herald made a terrible mistake of using the wrong image to illustrate the tragic death of Staff Sergeant Guy Boyland – a New Zealand-born Israeli soldier who…

Local

Katz's Deli wins name battle with Florida cafe

The New York City delicatessen Katz's has won a legal battle to force a Florida restaurant to change its name, according to court documents made public on Monday.

Local

Rethinking the NYC subway map and mass transit…

Max Roberts has never ridden New York City's subway — but he's thought about system's twists and turns more than most daily riders. A 47-year-old…

National

U.S. coastal flooding on the rise, government study…

By Ryan McNeill(Reuters) - Flooding is increasing in frequency along much of the U.S. coast, and the rate of increase is accelerating along the Gulf…

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

Entertainment

'Kim Kardashian: Hollywood' game easter eggs and cheats

"Kim Kardashian: Hollywood" is the hottest game of the moment. Here are its best easter eggs as well as some tips and tricks to speed your way to the top.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Food

Zagat releases '30 Under 30' list

Zagat releases a list of the people changing the food and drink industry across the country.

Wellbeing

Fist bump gets respect as clean alternative to…

Though long used to give props, the fist bump is getting some actual respect. The gesture, once dubbed a “terrorist fist jab,” could become the new…

Wellbeing

Fist bump gets respect as clean alternative to…

Though long used to give props, the fist bump is getting some actual respect. The gesture, once dubbed a “terrorist fist jab,” could become the new…

Tech

Amazon offers 3D printing to customize earrings, bobble…

By Deepa SeetharamanSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc will offer 3D printing services that allow customers to customize and build earrings, bobble head toys and…