Kraft Foods Inc. played it pretty low-key, but consumer groups were lauding – and claiming victory – in the company's October announcement that it would remove synthetic colorants from its macaroni and cheese products aimed at children.
It was the final bullet point in a news release about improvements to the Shapes line, which are popular with families. "Parents have told us that they would like fun Mac & Cheese varieties with the same great taste but with improved nutrition," said a spokesperson. "So, we have revamped our Shapes line for 2014 by:
- Adding 6g of whole grain per serving
- Reducing sodium and saturated fat by about 15 percent
- Using colors derived from spices (paprika, annatto and turmeric)."
The changes apparently do not affect Kraft's plain elbow-shaped macaroni and cheese with "original flavor."
It was bigger news than that for Vani Hari, petition author and founder of blog FoodBabe.com, who collected 348,000 names on an online petition asking Kraft to remove artificial dyes from family foods.
“Kraft Foods is taking a commendable first step in listening to consumers' call to end to the use of artificial dyes in foods that families consume everyday,” said Hari. “Kraft is obviously listening to me and the 348,000 people who have signed my petition on Change.org. Many people supported my campaign because this change is very important to the lives of so many people -- including children -- who consume Kraft products and are affected negatively every single day by these artificial food dyes."
The Kraft spokesperson went on to say: "For many years, Kraft has been reformulating hundreds of products to deliver better nutrition. These Shapes products are our latest innovation and provide additional choices for Mac & Cheese fans of all ages."
There are five varieties in the reformulated Shapes line – two new varieties and three existing ones. Consumers should be able to buy them in January.