Kraft to pull artificial colors from some mac and cheese products

By Maggie Hennessy

- Last updated on GMT

Kraft Foods will pull the artificial yellow coloring from five of its character-based shapes macaroni and cheese product lines starting in January 2014. 

Yellow #5 and #6 will be replaced with spices including paprika, turmeric and annatto in three existing and two new lines, but not in Kraft’s original flavored elbow macaroni and cheese.

Despite that the move comes just six months after two food bloggers launched a Change.org​ petition calling on Kraft to remove the controversial food dyes from all of its Macaroni & Cheese products, Kraft spokesperson Lynne Galia told us that the petition had nothing to do with the reformulations, emphasizing that the manufacturer is making "several other changes" ​in addition to removing the colors, such as adding 6 grams of whole grain per serving and reducing sodium and saturated fat by about 15% in the product lines. 

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SpongeBob SquarePants shapes are one of the existing Kraft macaroni and cheese lines that will be reformulated with natural colors.

"We’ve been working on this relaunch for quite some time,”​ Galia said. "It is completely in line with our company’s on-going efforts to deliver better nutrition in our products. And we’ve been offering many products with no colors or colors from spices for a number of years. These shapes products are just our latest innovation and provide additional choices for Mac & Cheese fans of all ages.”   

Galia declined to comment whether the company plans to make changes to additional product lines.

The Change.org petition, which was started by Vani Hari (The Food Babe) and Lisa Leake (100 Days of Real Food), called yellow #5 and #6 into question due to health concerns. The two women cited research from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which says the two petroleum-derived dyes have been linked to hyperactivity in children, migraines and possibly cancer. Both additives are legal and approved by the FDA, though purportedly only serve “aesthetic purposes.” Since March, the petition has received more than 348,000 signatures. 

Hari, who didn’t respond to requests for comment, called the move a victory, taking to her Facebook and Twitter pages to announce to fans, “Thank you for your voices. We are changing the food system together,”​ and using the hashtag #FoodBabeArmy. 

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