Kraft has revamped its character-shaped product line for 2014, according to company spokeswoman Lynne Galia. The new versions will have six additional grams of whole grains, be lower in sodium and saturated fat, and will use spices instead of artificial food dyes to recreate the pasta's famous yellow-orange color.
"Parents have told us that they would like fun Mac & Cheese varieties with the same great taste, but with improved nutrition," Galia said in an e-mail.
The company will remove Yellow No. 5 and Yellow No. 6 from boxes containing pasta shaped like SpongeBob SquarePants and those with Halloween and winter shapes. Two new shapes of the popular pasta -- Nickelodeon's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and "How to Train Your Dragon 2" from Dreamworks -- will also be free of food coloring, Galia said.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest hailed Kraft's decision on Friday. Michael Jacobson, the center's executive director, said he is pleased with the announcement but is "puzzled" as to why Kraft would not change its iconic elbow-shaped macaroni product as well.
"As Kraft has today shown, it is clearly possible to make macaroni and cheese without these harmful chemicals," Jacobson said in a statement.
Image: Yellow macaroni and cheese, via Shutterstock