These days, I don’t make macaroni and cheese, but I remember looking at the strange color of the cheese mixture when I used to prepare the packaged dish for my family. It just didn’t look like real food to me.
Food blogger Vani Hari and supporters delivered more than 270,000 petition signatures Tuesday to Kraft Foods' headquarters in the Chicago area asking the company to stop using artificial dyes in its macaroni and cheese products sold in the United States.
Hari and blogger Lisa Leake then met with Kraft representatives to discuss removing artificial dyes from their entire line of macaroni and cheese products.
Following the meeting, Hari said she hoped that Kraft would eventually remove the controversial dyes.
“If Kraft really wants to do right by their customers, like they’ve said, they’ll make their American products just as safe as their European ones,” she said.
Hari and Leake became concerned about the Kraft product after discovering that many countries ban the Yellow #5 and Yellow #6 artificial dyes and that the Center for Science in the Public Interest has linked the artificial colors to hyperactivity in children, migraines, and asthma.
The center also said tests on lab animals of dyes, including Yellow #5 and Yellow #6, showed signs of causing cancer.
On the use of the dyes, Kraft said it looks to regulators for guidance.
“The artificial colors allowed in the foods in the U.S., including the Yellow #5 and #6 used in some Kraft Mac & Cheese varieties, are some of the most well-studied ingredients,” Kraft said in a statement on its website. “The Food and Drug Administration has deemed them safe for use in food.”
Kraft also said other experts, including the European Food Safety Authority, have reached a similar conclusion.
However, in Europe, foods that contain Yellow #5, which is derived from petroleum, are required to carry a warning label, and the chemical has been banned in some countries, including Norway and Austria.
“Making ingredient changes isn’t as simple as it would seem,” Kraft said, adding all of the ingredients work together to deliver the distinctive taste, appearance, and texture consumers expect.
Kraft said it sells at least 14 other macaroni and cheese products made either with natural food colors or without added color.
“The safety and quality of our products is our highest priority, and we take consumer concerns very seriously,” Lynne Galia, a Kraft spokesperson, said in a statement.