Kraft is making changes to some of its boxed macaroni and cheese recipes: specifically, removing certain artificial food dyes from its more child-oriented offerings, including mac-and-cheese with pasta shaped like Spiderman, Spongebob Squarepants and other cartoon characters, and replacing the dye with colorful spices, such as turmeric, to create the food’s classically cheesy color.
However, the classic elbow-shaped Kraft Macaroni and Cheese will still be colored with Yellow No. 5 and Yellow No. 6. Which is arguably odd because, traditionally speaking, children are far more likely than adults to favor foods in unnaturally bright colors — show us a neon-colored candy or cereal, and we guarantee it’s something marketed as kidstuff. So why is Kraft is keeping the garish fake colors in its adult offerings, while removing it from food shaped like cartoon characters?
Kraft says its cartoon pastas will also be made with additional whole grains and lower fat and sodium levels.
A CNN writer reported an email conversation with a Kraft spokeswoman who said that “Parents have told us that they would like fun Mac & Cheese varieties with the same great taste, but with improved nutrition.”
We’re sure lots of parents have said this; we’re just doubtful that many of them added “When I said I wanted improved nutrition, I only meant for my kids; for myself, I’m perfectly happy to continue eating junk.”
On the other hand, every silver lining has a cloud, and Kraft’s new, more-natural offerings might cause problems for mac-and-cheese lovers who are allergic to the new coloring spices—in which case it’s just as well such people can still eat Kraft’s classic Elbow Mac if they want.
Kraft made the change in response to a Change.org petition from last March: “Kraft: Stop using dangerous food dyes in our mac & cheese.” (There is some dispute over whether Yellow Nos. 5 and 6 are actually “dangerous” to humans; however, there’s no disputing that several other countries think such dyes are dangerous, and have banned them as a result.)
The LA Times, meanwhile, noted that in response to Kraft’s decision to pull the dyes from some of its recipes, food bloggers have started another Change.org petition asking the Mars company to remove the dyes from its M&Ms.