Two mothers launched a campaign to remove the dye from Kraft Macaroni & Cheese after they learned it has been linked to cancer and migraines.
Lisa Leake and Vani Hari both have young children, and noticed the macaroni they were giving their children had two synthetic substances, “yellow 5 and yellow 6,” which are used only for aesthetic purposes.
They learned that the substances were banned in the same products in the UK, but because America has less strict regulations about food additives, it was allowed in the American version of the product.
They put a petition up on Change.org that has more than 40,000 signatures called “Kraft: Stop Using Dangerous Food Dyes in Our Mac & Cheese.”
The women also created a video that explains the health risks of the yellow dyes. The dyes contain benzidine 4-amino-buphenyl, which is a man-made product from petroleum.
It has been linked to hyperactivity in children, asthma, migraines and cancer.
Leake said, “We think this is an important issue to tackle because Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is an iconic food product.”
“Everyone’s had it at one time or another. I used to eat it... I used to feed it to my kids years ago and we think we deserve the same version that our friends overseas in the UK get without artificial food dye.”
In other countries, dyes require warning labels.
The UK Kraft Macaroni & Cheese does not use additives, and colors the pasta with a natural beta carotene and paprika.
In the video, the women taste both the UK version and the US version, and conclude they taste exactly the same and look nearly identical.
Kraft responded to the petition by stating it makes at least 14 other Macaroni & Cheese inspired products which contain only natural food colors.
A spokesperson for the company said, “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.”
The FDA permits the use of food dyes, including blue 1, blue 2, green 3, red 40, red 3, yellow 5 and yellow 6.
“All additives are subject to ongoing safety review as scientific understanding and methods of testing continue to improve. Consumers should feel safe about the foods they eat,” the FDA said.
But Hari and Leake warn that the additives are dangerous, and that most of them are banned in European countries.
“It was shocking to see hundreds of ingredients that were banned in other countries and were used in American products,” Hari said.