Kraft Foods responds to recent artificial food dye story - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Kraft Foods responds to recent artificial food dye story

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MADISON (WKOW)--Artificial food dyes are making national headlines as two food bloggers are working to convince Kraft Foods to stop using artificial dyes in their original Macaroni and Cheese. Over the past few months they have created a petition that now contains close to 300,000 signatures.

The two food bloggers discovered that several American food companies including Kraft are making two versions of their products. One version is made for American customers and contain artificial food coloring. The other version is made for European customers and is dyed naturally.

Kraft representatives contacted us at WKOW 27 News to explain their thoughts on the use of Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 in their original Macaroni and Cheese recipe. They feel that both dyes are some of the most well-studied ingredients in the recipe and several studies show they do not cause health problems.

The company also cited that the Food and Drug Administration has deemed them safe to use in food. The company will continue to use both dyes in their original recipe because they feel that several consumers value the taste and look of the original recipe that has been used for years.

However, the company understands that some consumers are looking for products that don't contain artificial dyes or additives. That is why they provide several other products that are artificial dye free. They include:

 

KRAFT Mac & Cheese White Cheddar

KRAFT Mac & Cheese Organic White Cheddar

KRAFT Mac & Cheese Organic Cheddar

KRAFT Mac & Cheese Alfredo

KRAFT Mac & Cheese Deluxe Original Cheddar

KRAFT Mac & Cheese Deluxe Four Cheese

KRAFT Mac & Cheese Deluxe Sharp Cheddar

KRAFT Mac & Cheese Homestyle Creamy Parmesan Alfredo

KRAFT Mac & Cheese Homestyle Sharp Cheddar and Bacon

KRAFT Mac & Cheese Homestyle Classic Cheddar

KRAFT Mac & Cheese Homestyle Hearty Four Cheese

KRAFT Mac & Cheese Homestyle Bowl Southwest Tortilla

KRAFT Mac & Cheese Homestyle Bowl Creamy Broccoli with White Cheddar

KRAFT Mac & Cheese Cup Alfredo

 

The food bloggers, Vani Hari and Lisa Leake, who started the petition for Kraft to stop using artificial dyes feel that the company still needs to provide dye-free products that appeal to children. Both bloggers say that none of these 14 products are marketed to children, but several products that are marketed through the use of popular cartoon characters still contain Yellow 5 and Yellow 6.

******

 

MADISON (WKOW)-- Artificial food dyes have long been used in the food we eat, but in recent years studies have shown a possible risk to children. Researchers believe they can cause hyperactivity, ADHD and other behavioral problems in some kids.

Most artificial food dyes are made from petroleum oil and coal tar. In the United States the Food and Drug Administration has approved several dyes including Yellow-5, Blue-1 and Red-40, but over in Europe things are much different.

Many American food companies are forced to make two different versions of their products due to the strict rules European countries like England have on artificial food dyes.

Take for example Kraft's macaroni and cheese. The American version gets it's cheddar-like organish glow from artificial dyes Yellow-5 and Yellow-6. The European version however, is colored through paprika extra and beta-carotene (the organic compound that makes pumpkins and carrots orange.)

"It's really unfair that the American children are being affected by these dyes here, but not overseas and not in other countries," food blogger and FoodBabe.com founder Vani Hari says.

Outraged by the idea of not having natural versions of food in American, Hari and another food blogger decided to speak out. They created a petition with close to 300,000 signatures that all
ask Kraft foods to make their American version of macaroni and cheese as wholesome as the version found overseas.

"It's not like we're asking Kraft to reinvent the wheel and come up with a new product and test market. It's already done," Hari says.

Several European countries decided to crack down on the use of artificial dyes after research showed they might be harmful to children. In a study titled, Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks, test animals developed tumors, cancers, changes in behavior and signs of hyperactivity. It lead researchers to believe that in children certain dyes could be responsible for allergic reactions, birth defects, hyperactivity, and behavior problems like ADHD.

"The goal of our petition is really to create an awareness about these artificial dyes," Hari says.

Thanks to the help of some of our friends overseas we at WKOW 27 News were able to track down the Kraft macaroni and cheese UK version called "Cheesey Pasta." It's made the same way as the American version using a little bit of butter, milk and some water. We decided to make them both and put them side by side and see if people could tell the difference.

We were able to find arguably the biggest fan of macaroni and cheese. 6-year-old Ava Docherty of Waunakee says she eats it as often as she can.

"Three times a week or something," Docherty says.

Both Ava and her mother Angie agreed to do a blind taste test for us. After sampling each one,
both were amazed at how similar they looked and tasted. Both were hard-pressed to pick out which one they liked best. In the end they both decided the UK version looked and tasted better.

"If this is definitely the better choice with less additives and dyes, there wouldn't be a reason why you wouldn't," Angie Docherty says.

Knowing what she knows now, mom says she'll be on the look out for artificial dyes in her family's food.

"I think I'll think twice, definitely," Angie Docherty says.

But Docherty isn't the only mom focused on what she feeds her kids. With a growing trend of more mindful mothers, scientific researchers have been working on alternatives to artificial dyes. One of them is Dr. Irwin Goldman, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Horticulture Department. He has spent the past 20 years studying dye-producing vegetables like beets. The juice from beets is used in many food products like snack foods, ice cream, and yogurt.

"You chop up the vegetable. Think about a blender where you add water to it. That liquid will become the source of your colorant," Goldman says.

Other researchers have found viable dyes in potatoes, carrots, cranberries, and radishes.

"I think we eat food with our eyes. I really do and I think beauty and attractiveness is a huge part of the whole social part of eating," Goldman explains.

Despite all this research, Goldman says there's a limit to what these vegetable dyes can do.

"They can't be used in something that would be heat processed because the colors will often breakdown with heat, whereas the synthetic dye will often be more stable," Goldman says.

It's likely natural dyes will never be able to fully replace their artificial counterparts, they're more expensive and have severe limitations, but Hari and her food-blogging counterpart hope  that with more people becoming aware of them and supporting them, businesses will pave the way for innovation.

"When you look at the amount of artificial dyes being put into our food supply versus way back when, these are serious issues that we need to address," Hari says.

 

Kraft foods does offer a few product choices that don't contain artificial food dyes. They include:

KRAFT Mac & Cheese White Cheddar

KRAFT Mac & Cheese Organic White Cheddar

KRAFT Mac & Cheese Organic Cheddar

KRAFT Mac & Cheese Alfredo

KRAFT Mac & Cheese Deluxe Original Cheddar

KRAFT Mac & Cheese Deluxe Four Cheese

KRAFT Mac & Cheese Deluxe Sharp Cheddar

KRAFT Mac & Cheese Homestyle Creamy Parmesan Alfredo

KRAFT Mac & Cheese Homestyle Sharp Cheddar and Bacon

KRAFT Mac & Cheese Homestyle Classic Cheddar

KRAFT Mac & Cheese Homestyle Hearty Four Cheese

KRAFT Mac & Cheese Homestyle Bowl Southwest Tortilla

KRAFT Mac & Cheese Homestyle Bowl Creamy Broccoli with White Cheddar

KRAFT Mac & Cheese Cup Alfredo

Company representatives from Kraft Foods tell WKOW 27 News that they use Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 in their original Kraft Macaroni and Cheese because it has been tested frequently and is approved by the FDA.

They also mentioned that scientific consensus on safety is very important when it comes to the ingredients they use. Studies they are familiar with show that artificial dyes are safe to consume. However, they understand that some consumers are looking for a product that does not contain artificial dyes. That is why they provide the 14 products listed above and will continue to develop new items that are food dye free.

At this time however, company representatives tell us that they plan to keep the original macaroni and cheese recipe the same, because they feel several consumers enjoy the taste and color of the original recipe.

 

*Anyone who would like to learn more about artificial food dyes should check out these websites for more information:

 

Research Study on Artificial Food Dyes:

http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/food-dyes-rainbow-of-risks.pdf

 

Food Bloggers on Dr. Oz Show, CNN, and FOX News:

http://foodbabe.com/2013/03/15/the-latest-kraft-petition-tv-coverage-dr-oz-cnn-fox-news-nbc-and-good-morning-america/

 

Online Petition for Kraft to stop using artificial food dyes in American mac and cheese:

http://www.change.org/petitions/kraft-stop-using-dangerous-food-dyes-in-our-mac-cheese

 

Kraft Foods Response to Petition:

http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2013/03/14/response-kraft-letter-petition-artificial-dyes/

 

FDA Website- Artificial Food Dyes:

http://www.fda.gov/ForIndustry/ColorAdditives/

 

Web-MD Article on Artificial Food Dyes:

http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/childhood-adhd/food-dye-adhd

 

Center for Science in the Public Interest- Artificial Food Dyes

http://www.cspinet.org/fooddyes/

 

Dr. Irwin Goldman's Research into Beets as a Natural Dye:

https://mywebspace.wisc.edu/groups/Goldman/Web/Web%20Pages%20New/PDFs%20for%20publist/43.pdf

 

UW-Madison Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics Program:

https://mywebspace.wisc.edu/groups/Goldman/Web/

 

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