Kraft’s Mac & Cheese Gets an Overhaul at Last

Kraft’s mac and cheese boxed dinner marks an essential part of childhood for many Americans. For some of us, it just about defines “comfort food.”

The problem is that it can contain up to 18 ingredients, including artificial dyes and preservatives. So I was delighted to see Reuters news service report this week that Kraft plans to drop Yellow No. 5 and 6 dyes from its iconic meal by next year and instead use turmeric, paprika and annatto (a seed extract).

The company also pledged to stop using artificial preservatives, a move that underscores how the market is changing in response to consumer demand. In 2013, activist Vani Hari, the Food Babe, got more than 350,000 signatures on her online petition urging Kraft to remove these dyes.

Kraft’s announcement should be a wake-up call for other food manufacturers to take notice, go back to the drawing board, reformulate and get rid of synthetic ingredients, especially in food marketed to children. More and more big box brands have already committed to simplify their recipes and drop synthetic food dyes and preservatives. As the Chicago Tribune reported, Hershey’s, Kellogg’s and Heinz have made similar commitments to change their formulations to reflect Americans’ growing objections to unnecessary chemical additives in food.

The mantra for EWG’s Food Scores, our online consumer research tool and app, is “less is more.” Think fewer ingredients and chemical additives and less sugar, trans fat and salt. And you don’t have to wait for Kraft to follow through. You can find better mac and cheese options right now with EWG’s Food Scores and this great blog by EWG Deputy Director of Research Nneka Leiba.

In the meantime, keep up the pressure. Check out EWG’s recent report on propyl paraben, the chemical additive and endocrine disruptor that’s in many packaged foods, and then take action to get it out of the food we eat. Learn more at Food Scores and know that by raising our voices and voting with our pocketbooks, we’re forcing companies to put healthier options on the table.

Photo via Mike Chaput.

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