Why are dyes in Kraft's US Mac & Cheese?

They're not in the UK version, prompting more than 227,000 consumers to sign a petition to get food additives out of the kid favorite.

By Aimee Picchi Mar 14, 2013 10:53AM

File photo of boxes of Kraft Foods Group Inc. macaroni & cheese displayed in Fog Hill Market in San Francisco, California on Feb. 5, 2013 (© David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET.

How about a helping of chemical additives with your children's Kraft (KRFT) Macaroni & Cheese? If that doesn't appeal to you, you're not alone: More than 227,000 people have signed a petition urging the food giant to change its recipe. 

At issue are two chemical food dyes that are excluded from Kraft's cheesy pasta in some other countries, according to the petition, which two food bloggers started. In some countries, the chemical dyes -- Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 -- are actually banned. 

"These unnecessary -- yet potentially harmful -- dyes are not in Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in other countries, including the UK, because they were removed due to consumer outcry," the petition from Vani Hari and Lisa Leake says. "Kraft reformulated their product for the UK, but not for their fellow American citizens."

In a statement posted on the petition, Kraft responded that the company carefully follows regulations set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"So in the U.S., we only use colors that are approved and deemed safe for food use by the Food and Drug Administration," Lynne Galia of Kraft Foods Corporate Affairs wrote in the response. 

Galia told MSN moneyNOW that the food company also offers 14 varieties of macaroni and cheese that are made without added food colors or with natural food colors, such as Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Organic White Cheddar.

But critics say food manufacturers can take it upon themselves to change their recipes, without prompting from the FDA. Kraft uses other coloring substances such as paprika in countries where the dyes have raised health concerns, according to the Guardian.

Yellow 5 and other food dyes have been linked to heightened health risks, including hyperactivity in children, cancer and allergic reactions, the Center for Science in the Public Interest says. The group has advocated for the U.S. to ban the additives. 

Some consumers said they had stopped eating Kraft Macaroni & Cheese after learning about the food dyes, with one writing that her daughter quit eating the pasta after hearing about the chemical colors. "If at 14 she gets it, why can't you?" the petitioner wrote, according to Change.org. 

Other public outcries have prompted food manufacturers to change their recipes. Take the case of PepsiCo's (PEP) Gatorade, which became the target of another petition, in this case to remove brominated vegetable oil.

High school student Sarah Kavanagh started the campaign after finding out that the ingredient is linked to possible side effects such as altered thyroid hormones, according to The New York Times. It's also patented as a flame retardant in plastics, Kavanagh wrote in the Guardian

"The petition got so big, it couldn't be ignored," she wrote. In January, PepsiCo said it would stop using the ingredient.

--Aimee Picchi owns shares of PepsiCo but has not traded the stock in at least 12 months. 

More on moneyNOW

Mar 14, 2013 12:14PM
Why would anyone buy this crap?   What is wrong with making your own macaroni and cheese?  Too lazy?   Eliminate as much processed and packaged food as possible from your diet and you will live longer and healthier.  
Mar 14, 2013 2:48PM
I saw the two ladies (who started petition) on TV....  My first thought was that they are worried about dye in a food they could avoid, yet they have enough warpaint on their faces to cause concern....  If dyes are so bad why are you slathering your face and lips with them?  I would love them to answer to that!
Mar 14, 2013 3:04PM

I'm so sick of petitions, I'd like to sign a petition banning petitions.

If you know it's not healthy, don't buy it. Stay out of other people's business.

Mar 14, 2013 3:02PM
Just did a little research of other brands of boxed Mac and Cheese and every single one had Yellow 5 & 6. Kraft gets singled out because they are the most popular brand and many more foods out there have these artificial colors in them, not just mac and cheese. Read the labels and decide if you want to put that in your body. At the end of the day it is the consumers choice, and responsibility to know what they are putting in their bodies the FDA can only do so much. Any packaged processed food has a bunch of horrible crap in it. Why do you think there is a higher rates of cancer and other illnesses out there today? Its all the chemicals in our foods. Back in our parents and grandparents days, they ate REAL food! Not something from a box with fake powder they call cheese. 
Mar 14, 2013 2:53PM
Sadly, there are way to many chemicals, additives, high fructose corn syrup, GMOS, unhealthy fats and sugars in sooo many foods today, even some touted as "healthy" or "natural".  Another issue is that so called "healthy", organic, natural foods are much more expensive then the usual supermarket selections, and not sold everywhere but mostly in speciality stores, health food stores, Whole Foods, at prices that many "average' families cannot afford. The online sites selling so called health foods cannot be trusted either (you don't REALLY know what you're buying online) lots of online "scams" with health foods these days.   Maybe its time for the FDA to stop approving unsafe chemicals and additives being added to our food supply and almost everything we eat instead of letting large food companies control the situation in order to make big profits. 
Mar 14, 2013 12:36PM
If you don't like the way they make it, don't buy it. Stop trying to ruin delicous food. I like my macaronni and cheese bright yellow.
Mar 14, 2013 1:22PM

oh too bad....

stop being LAZY and make your own mac & cheese....

MUCH MUCH MUCH better than this preprocessed CRAP!!!

Mar 14, 2013 2:57PM
Homemade macaroni and cheese tastes a lot better
Mar 14, 2013 1:11PM
How many vegetarians eat the cheese which has animal rennet (derived from cows intestine)? Ignorance is bliss! More important is that there are products which do not have these dyes or animal rennet in them. Instead of protesting, start using the alternatives. Loss of revenue will teach Kraft to change behavior way quicker then these silly protests.
Mar 14, 2013 12:12PM

Macaroni & Cheese (Kraft or any other kind for that matter)  while a favorite of Americans for years is not your friend.  It is very unhealthy and that orange powder (fake cheese) is loaded chemicals additives and preservatives.  It is pure junk unhealthy and fattening.  If you want to eat Mac & Cheese make your own homemade with real cheese and skim milk.  Your body will thank you for it.

Mar 14, 2013 3:09PM

Homemade mac and cheese might be better but it doesn't cure a hangover


Mar 14, 2013 3:21PM

if you don't like it, then make your kid homemade mac & cheese, that simple. Stop b!tching about additives and this and that, when you, as a parent, are the ones who buy what goes in your kids mouth. Take some responsibility besides blaming the food manufacturers.

Besides, this crap is really not any different then taking your kid to McDonalds and buying them burgers and fries loaded with oil... Hypocrites

Mar 14, 2013 3:15PM

If nothing else it brings attention to parents on just exactly what they are feeding their children.

Mar 14, 2013 3:09PM

These 2 girls searched high and low to come up with something that they could use to start a petition. If you'll notice... when they first started this, acting like concerned do-gooders, down to earth, go green kind of young ladies, they looked very concerned and very plain in their photo.   Take another look..... I bet if we were to do a background check on them and talk to their friends or people that know them, I bet anything that they both ate mac n cheese 4 months ago. Check it out.

remember......"IT'S THE CHEESE SAUCE THAT MAKES IT TASTE SO GOOD!" We like the yellow color of our mac n cheese if you don't, make your own. and to you others, guess what, not everyone has an oven that works and not everyone has casserole dishes, some people just have 1 pot, 1 bowl and 1 fork, and not because they are lazy.

Mar 14, 2013 3:32PM
It's clearly not an act of laziness that we eat this mac and cheese. It tastes like heaven, and on a plus side is easy and fast (and cheap); which coordinates to our busy life styles. So, excuse you, meanie butts.
Mar 14, 2013 3:37PM

How about people just don't buy it if you don't like it? Simple as that. I don't like pickled eggs so I don't buy them. I'm not going to start a petition to remove them from shelves.

Mar 14, 2013 3:30PM

There really isn't anything that is healthy about Kraft Mac and Cheese so I'm not sure that omitting the food dye is going to matter. If you really care about your kids health then stop wasting your time on petitions and start cooking them a healthy meal. Then get outside with them and find ways to exercise.  That would be the best use of time. 

Mar 14, 2013 2:54PM
Ya, they only care when the out cry gets big enough to upset their profit margin. I eat kraft mac n cheese all the time, but will never again. As a matter of fact i will stop buying all pepsi products. At least  we know why they say kraft mac n cheese is the cheesiest.
Mar 14, 2013 1:38PM
Sorry, I read this as "Why are dykes in Kraft's Mac & Cheese. My glasses are now clean.
Mar 14, 2013 12:46PM
I just found out that Butterfinger's are Kosher . Pay your Kosher tax
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