Our Response to Kraft’s Letter: It’s Time to Surrender Your Artificial Dyes

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FYI – Today I am appearing on the Dr. Oz Show along with Vani (aka Food Babe) to discuss our petition - be sure to tune in!


It’s been a little over one week since we started a petition to remove artificial food dyes from Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. We have over 228,000 signatures, and counting, and while we heard from Kraft right after the petition launched, it was not the response we were hoping for.

We thought it would be important to share their response and exact letter with you, so you can understand exactly what we are up against.

Below you’ll see Kraft’s letter to us along with our specific response and reaction in bold.

From Kraft: Hi Lisa and Vani,

Thanks for contacting us. The safety and quality of our products is our highest priority and we take consumer concerns very seriously. We carefully follow the laws and regulations in the countries where our products are sold. So in the U.S., we only use colors that are approved and deemed safe for food use by the Food and Drug Administration.

Our Response: When Kraft found out the safety of artificial food dyes was in question in Europe – why didn’t they make the “safety” of U.S. citizens their highest priority, too? Food is food – whether in our country or someone else’s – why not make all Kraft products standardized to the highest safety regulation across the board? Kraft was able to reformulate their products without artificial dyes in the U.K. without noticeably changing the color or taste – we even taste tested it ourselves just to prove this point. We know it can be done; Kraft doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel.

To further prove this point – Kraft stated this fact themselves by reformulating Lunchables in the UK without “compromising quality, taste and food safety.”

“Kraft Foods UK has no products aimed at children that contain the ingredients highlighted in the FSA [Southampton] study. . . . [W]ith our recent Lunchables reformulation in the UK, we reduced fat and salt, as well as removed artificial colours and flavours. Without compromising quality, taste and food safety, we will continue to see where we can make changes and still meet consumer expectations.”—Kraft Foods UK (Quote Taken from AllergyKids Foundation)

Because Kraft has not willingly and proactively reformulated their products in the US, it’s obvious to us that Kraft’s highest priority is their bottom line. We are asking Kraft, a multi-billion dollar company, to be the leader in the US Food Industry by voluntarily removing artificial dyes and owning up to the statements they make about safety and quality of their products.

From Kraft: We expanded our line of KRAFT Mac & Cheese (KMC) offerings. We know some people prefer foods without certain ingredients — we now offer a multitude of products without added colors, as well as products with natural food colors including:

  • KMC Organic White Cheddar
  • KMC Organic Cheddar
  • KMC White Cheddar
  • KMC Alfredo
  • KMC Deluxe Original Cheddar
  • KMC Deluxe Four Cheese
  • KMC Deluxe Sharp Cheddar
  • KMC Homestyle Creamy Parmesan Alfredo
  • KMC Homestyle Sharp Cheddar and Bacon
  • KMC Homestyle Classic Cheddar
  • KMC Homestyle Hearty Four Cheese
  • KMC Homestyle Bowl Southwest Tortilla
  • KMC Homestyle Bowl Creamy Broccoli with White Cheddar
  • KMC Cup Alfredo

Our Response: Who prefers food with artificial color? We are not sure many consumers do since it adds no benefit or nutritional value to the foods it’s in and is simply a cheap, cosmetic additive. And what about all the kids that reach for the boxes with cartoon characters? Do you really think they are going to pick out the Organic/Homestyle version over Spongebob? The above options of Macaroni and Cheese without artificial dyes are not targeted toward children, and the versions that are specifically designed for children do contain Yellow #5 and Yellow #6. Children are the ones that are most at risk for complications when consuming artificial dyes. In Europe, a food company is required to use a warning label when using artificial food dyes stating, “May cause adverse effects in activity and attention in children” on the package.

But meanwhile back in the US, Kraft features children regularly in commercials and goes as far as holding essay contests specifically for children to promote the introduction and creation of new product lines containing artificial food dyes – products like “Cheddar Explosion,” “Extreme Cheese Explosion,” and “Grilled Cheese Explosion.”

Since artificial dyes provide no value but do pose risks, we believe it is up to Kraft to voluntarily change their product and stop exploiting the FDA laws to their financial advantage. The 30 or so Kraft varieties that do still contain artificial dyes in the US are unfair to the children lured by these products, unfair to the less fortunate who buy these products because they are cheaper, and unfair to the uneducated consumer that is unaware of these potentially harmful ingredients.

Kraft Mac and Cheese Products Targeted at Children - 100 Days of Real Food

Even the FDA admits we should be concerned, stating the following on their website:

“Exposure to food and food components, including AFC [Artificial Food Colors] and preservatives, may be associated with behavioral changes, not necessarily related to hyperactivity, in certain susceptible children with ADHD and other problem behaviors, and possibly in susceptible children from the general population.”

Yellow #5 and #6 both have not been retested since their approval – do we have confidence in the FDA to keep up to date on health risks considering there were 91 artificial dyes (allowed in food, drugs, cosmetics, and/or medical devices) that were at one point approved by the FDA that are now no longer authorized or have been restricted?

Also what about all the big restaurant chains like Applebee’s, IHOP, Perkins, Denny’s, Longhorn Steakhouse, Bob Evans and Steak n’ Shake offering “Kraft Macaroni & Cheese” in kids meals and on menus across the country? These children do not get a choice between mac & cheese with or without dyes – instead they are solely offered the riskier option.

Kraft Mac and Cheese on kids menus - 100 Days of Real Food

From Kraft: We appreciate the opportunity to share this information with you.

Our Response: Sharing this information with us does not address our petition nor does it address our concerns for the health of Americans. We request that Kraft listen to the (228k+) people signing our petition and the families who have reached out to us directly in concern.

We’ve received numerous letters from parents and people who have had dramatic improvements in the health of their families after removing artificial dyes. Here are just a few excerpts from these hundreds of letters – we hope this finally convinces Kraft to act and remove artificial dyes:

“Artificial dyes caused him to have tantrums that nobody could believe – after eating anything containing dye – absolutely any and everything could set him off into a tantrum and he would scream in such a state of rage that he was unreachable for approx. 50-60 minutes at a time.” – Tracy

 

“My son had very bad eczema along with hyper activity when he was younger. After years of expensive medicine and creams for his skin we decided to stop eating foods with dyes in them. The results were astounding. I had a much more manageable child with beautiful skin.” – Renee

 

“My 5 year old son, has horrible reactions to artificial dyes. We’ve always been very cautious about what we eat, we don’t buy products that contain artificial ANYTHING, but we used to let him partake in treats at parties that contain artificial colorings, until we realized the random violent outbursts he was having came only after consuming artificial dyes. Normally, he is a very sweet soul, but the day after Halloween, when we had allowed him to eat skittles, he had a violent outburst in class where he threw a chair. A CHAIR. His teachers were shocked, so were we.” – Emily

 

“We struggled for over 2 years, trying various strategies to stop the tantrums, teach him to self-soothe and calm himself when overstimulated, and help him sleep through the night again. Nothing worked until we eliminated artificial food dyes from his diet when he was 4 1/2 years old. We saw dramatic results just 5 days after eliminating them. He started sleeping through the night consistently for the first time since he was a baby, and his intense and long-lasting tantrums also disappeared.” – Jennifer

 

“My 5 old daughter is hypersensitive to food dyes which we didn’t discover until we took them away. Her behavior was off the charts fighting, screaming, and just plain unhappy. We removed artificial food from her diet, she became a different child. She is happy and compliant. But if she has any thing containing food dye, she losses her mind and will begin to scream, fight, hit the halls. Finally at the age of 5 she is able to tell me when she has a headache and its alway after having something containing artificial food dye at school. This can’t be just a coincidence!! I mean every time my daughter has artificial food dye she is in pain!” – Kelli

 

“My 14 year old daughter was diagnosed with eczema when she was 3 months old. We have been to many Doctors and have had way too many prescriptions. The triggers for this condition are many. The major ones that we have found that bother her are artificial dyes. As you can imagine, it is very difficult to keep all of them out of our homes. It is something that we need to be mindful of everyday if she wants to stay healthy. I truly believe that all dyes should be banned for our food supply today. Not only our food supply but also from medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.” – Kerry

 

“One of my sons is allergic to artificial food dye…to the point of it being life-threatening. His breathing becomes labored, he becomes lethargic and we must have (dye-free) Benadryl and an EPI Pen Jr. on hand at all times. Fortunately, we try to eat very naturally so we were able to identify the issue fairly quickly. However, it’s very difficult to protect him from artificial food dye in public, i.e. visiting friends/family, church, schools, etc. It would be a relief to this momma if artificial food dye were out of U.S. food products. ” – Jen

 

“My son has Aspergers, a form of autism. Food dyes significantly affect his behavior sometimes leading to explosive tantrums. Red dye #40 causes aggression and self injury. Blue #2 and yellow #5 affect his communication and emotional state. Basically, he becomes nasty and grumpy. Unable to tell us how he is really feeling, this behavior leads to tantrums. Food dye is not allowed in my house. Why do I care if other children eat it? Because until people are fully educated on the side effects of the poison they feed their children they are not able to make rational choices.” – Michele

 

“My son is adversely affected by artificial colors. Several months ago we removed all foods with artificial colors and flavorings from his diet to see if his behavior would improve. We were amazed to find that by removing these from his diet he has a better attention span and is less fidgety. If there is ever a time when he does eat something with these dyes in it, after about 20 minutes I can tell.” – Christie

 

“My 2 year old daughter breaks out in hives from artificial food dyes.” – Katie

 

“We were having a hard time with his behavioral outbursts when I read an article on how food dyes can often effect kids with ADHD. I decided for the heck of it to remove them from our home. We already eat pretty healthy, but Mac and Cheese was one thing that my son loved and was willing to eat. I switched to the organic brand Annie’s and also now read every thing I buy. If it contains any food coloring at all, we don’t buy it. Within a month my son completely changed. His erratic behavior was gone and he was able to focus a lot more on tasks. His stimming (self stimulating behaviors that you see with Autism) also decreased significantly. ” – Lori

We hope you join us and demand this change by signing this petition now and sharing it with as many people as you know. Together we can make our voices heard!

With Much Love,

Lisa with 100DaysofRealFood.com and Vani with FoodBabe.com

 

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202 comments to Our Response to Kraft’s Letter: It’s Time to Surrender Your Artificial Dyes

  • I just finished reading Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. I did not think it was possible to be more sickened by the food industry. People should not buy them but they do and it since it is marketed right to the kids it is great that you made the effort to try and make a change.

  • Samantha

    I just heard this on NPR this afternoon! Maybe creating a “gray market” for selling the UK versions of Mac & Cheese in the US at a discounted price is what Kraft needs to nudge them in the right direction to clean up their products.

  • DocMom

    I have an idea – SPEND TIME COOKING REAL FOOD FOR YOUR KIDS RATHER THAN WASTE TIME WRITING TO CRAPPY FOOD COMPANIES!

    • Erin

      Do you work for Kraft?

      I’m offended by your comment. I can’t imagine how Lisa and Vani feel. We have to be advocates for our health and our children’s health. Obviously our food regulation bodies aren’t doing the job.

      Yes, spending time COOKING REAL FOOD for you kids is great. Creating a petition and contacting a CRAPPY FOOD COMPANY about removing additives that can harm all children in America who consume this productive, pure greatness.

      Maybe you won’t get the message unless I use all capital letters.

      THIS IS A GREAT PETITION TO IMPROVE THE SAFETY OF A FOOD THAT MILLIONS OF CHILDREN EAT!

      Tell me how that is WASTE OF TIME!

    • Melissa

      Yay Doc Mom! You’re awesome.

    • Megan

      Yes, but are we only concerned about our children? By not feeding our children Kraft Mac & Cheese, does that mean all children in the US stop eating it? What’s wrong with asking a company to rid their products of potentially harmful ingredients for the good of others. How could this campaign be interpreted as anything but good? I find it selfless.

  • Stacey

    I posted this on your back book page last night, but it looks like it may have gotten lost;

    You had twice the amount of signatures needed on your Kraft Mac and Cheese petition than needed to get a response from the government on their petition site. I think you should petition the government to prohibit all artificial food dyes in all food sold in the US. You obviously have a huge reach. :-)

    http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fpetitions.whitehouse.gov%2F&h=_AQEE9-cpAQE9IP8gE8nVundBGexRw6oI5p47KiWPM7hcaw&s=1

    Let me also add that it’s not just processed food that they put dye into. I believe I read once that they put dye into oranges and cucumbers (or pickles) to make them look “more appealing” to consumers. As hard as I try to make healthy choices for my family it would really just help if the US banned artificial dyes. One more thing we all wouldn’t need to worry about.

  • Angela

    sorry this isn’t about dyes, but I just wanted to say for a healthier version of mac & cheese, swap out half (or all) of the butter for pureed sweet potato (little baby food jar).
    It’s awesome.

  • Emily

    Can we get this petition up on https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/ ? I believe that this is not only major neglect on the part of the Kraft company and other food companies but that it is a basic legal problem. Why is the FDA approving of substances that they recognize can be harmful to human health? Although the companies are at fault for including the dyes in their products technically they are obeying the law. Shouldn’t America hold it’s companies to the highest possible standard? I know there are a lot of politics that can get in the way of things like this; however, I believe we are at the beginning of a food revolution in America. A revolution that is long overdue and can only continue by providing information like this to the most possible people.

    Lisa and Vani please re-post your petition from change.org to the government petition website, it is not my article/words to post so I feel uncomfortable acting on my own.

    Thank you for bringing such an important and under-recognized topic to light in the public eye. We as an American people should no longer turn a blind eye to or be ignorant of what is in our food.

  • Marisa

    Just saw you on Dr. Oz. I had no idea about these dyes. Thank You so much for making me aware!

  • stacy hancock

    dont worry, kraft, i try my best not to purchase anything you’re a part of.

  • Kate

    What you are doing is commendable, but I would think the battle should be taken to the FDA not Kraft.

  • Of course their highest priority is their bottom line. They’re not a charity, they are a for-profit business. The will never modify their cash cow when millions of satisfied consumers happily buy it and falls well within FDA regulations. That’s just not how brands operate.

  • Paula M

    I do not have children, but I am thankful there are articles out there like this because as someone who is trying to eat healthier for myself and cook meals that are more healthy for us, and who’s husband LOVES mac and cheese, and is eating it now as a snack, THIS got my attention. For those of us who are just starting to learn how unhealthy processed foods are, I am thankful the authors took the time to write this. Thank you and blessings to you and please write more.

  • kim

    Can you please list the names of artificial food dyes we should avoid? This would really help me!Thanks!! Love what you’re doing!!!

  • I am so pleased to read this. I try to educate as many people as I possible can about the dyes we consume. It’s unbelievably how some don’t want to hear it. It’s amazing how some accept what the food industry is doing and than they will adapt to the reactions with medication and just accepting this is just the way it is. Thank you for your step and your true mission. Please let me know what I can do on my part to help get the word out. We are currently in South Park mall Charlotte.
    Jewell Treats Cupcakes

  • Dawn Renda

    FYI – I went directly to the Kraftfoods.com website and contacted them directly via email. I told them that I was disappointed and disgusted with their decision not to remove the dyes from their products and that I would never again purchase another Kraft product. Maybe if more people were to contact them directly they may change their minds? I think that it’s worth a try.

  • C Colby

    Dear Kraft,
    Because you haven t listened to customers that have signed to have no dyes,(me being one of those)in your products. I have now cleaned my house of all the products from Kraft and all the other companies you manufacture through.

    Thank you for poisoning our children.
    Thank you for poisoning me.

    If profit is far more important than healthy people who buy your product. I dont want you in mine or my family or freinds lives.

    Thank you for making my decision so easy.
    C Colby

  • Catie

    Howdy!
    I am researching this topic for my speech class. I am so disgusted by the facts I have learned, but eager to move forwards. As a student studying Community Health I am fully supportive of this petition and have utilized every opportunity to spread the word to my classmates. I hope that we can reach more signatures and change the future of popular, accessible, cheap foods for the upcoming generations. There is absolutely no reason that a busy family on a budget should have their health compromised because they failed to research the food label or grabbed the cheapest option. This needs to change now.

  • Joel

    Hello,
    I know that many foods offered and consume lead to poor physical health in the US. Until I started learning about what the red food dye in Kraft macaroni in my business class, I was unaware that something that seemed so harmless could have such a potential negative impact on a child’s behavior. In my family we always monitored sugar, caffeine, and overly fatty food intake for children, but had no idea that food dyes have such issues. I have a niece and nephew who both have behavioral issues, but they also eat these kinds of food on a regular basis. With my siblings though, they work full time and live very busy life styles, so I am not sure if they would even be able to avoid all of these foods that could cause issues. However, I am going to try and convince them to change their diets and see if they see changes in their children’s’ behavior. I certainly think that these companies should be providing warnings that these ingredients may have harmful side effects apart from what the general consumer knows about processed foods.

  • [...] of my knowledge, the protest and demand of over 300,000 people to remove the artificial colors have produced no effect on the ways Kraft Foods formulate their highly processed Mac and Cheese. To tell you more, Kraft [...]

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