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. 


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