Kraft Foods' iconic macaroni and cheese is a favorite among kids, but its cheesy yellow color comes from food dyes that could be harmful to children's health. That's the claim made by a Change.org petition that has collected more than 50,000 signatures in an attempt to convince Kraft to refrain from using artificial food dyes Yellow #5 and Yellow #6 in their products.
Two North Carolina food bloggers, Vani Hari and Lisa Leake, started the petition after learning that a number of countries ban the chemical dyes, or require foods containing them to have a warning label. The Center for Public Interest has conducted research linking the dyes with conditions from migraine headaches to asthma.
"If an American company can take the time and expense to reformulate a safer food product for countries overseas, then I believe Americans deserve the same treatment," said Leake, a mother of two girls and creator of the "100 Days of Real Food" website. "It's rather shocking that we are still being fed ingredients, which are no longer used – and in some cases banned – elsewhere."
In Europe, foods that contain Yellow #5 are required to carry a warning label. The chemical has been completely banned in Norway and Austria. In the United Kingdom, Kraft's "Cheesey Pasta," the British version of the American Macaroni and Cheese product, doesn't contain artificial food dyes.
"After suffering some serious health issues, I became incredibly passionate about understanding what is in food – how it is grown, what chemicals are used in its production, and what eating food does or doesn't do for the body," said Hari, a popular food activist writer who has been featured in the New York Times and is a regular contributor to NBC's Charlotte Today. "I knew I needed to do something."
Image: Macaroni and cheese, via Shutterstock