Most of us have eaten it and most of us have allowed our children to eat it — Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. It has a unique flavor that any of us could pick out of a lineup of mac and cheeses. But along with that famous flavor comes a bright and very artificial color. To create that orange glow, Kraft uses Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 in the iconic meal, and two moms, Lisa Leake and Vani Hari, are now challenging Kraft to remove the fake colors.
What's Wrong With Yellow?
Artificial food coloring overall is dangerous. Many are linked to cancer, hyperactivity, and problems learning. Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 are no different. Banned in some countries and being phased out in others, Yellow 5 is linked to hyperactivity in children as well as genotoxicity, while Yellow 6 has been connected to possible adrenal and testicular tumors. The risks come with little benefit. The food colorings add nothing to the flavor or nutritional value of the mac and cheese. They only provide the aesthetic benefit of the bright orange color Kraft Mac and Cheese is known for.
Mac and Cheese Overseas
Banned in many European countries, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 are both missing from the European version of Kraft Mac and Cheese. Instead of using the petroleum-based yellows, Kraft colors its European mac and cheese with natural beta carotene and paprika. Leake and Hari taste-tested the product and found it to have virtually no difference in taste to the American version.
How to Help
Despite claims by Kraft that their mac and cheese is completely safe based on the FDA's approval of Yellows 5 and 6, Leake and Hari believe that any ingredients which have been proven to cause harm should not be allowed in a food that so many American children consume. The mothers have started an online petition calling for Kraft to remove the artificial food dyes and produce a similar product in the United States to the one in Europe. You can sign the petition at change.org.
No matter what foods we put on our table, reading ingredients is an important part of ensuring our good health and the health of our children. Even some products that pride themselves on being "natural" can have some not-so-good ingredients. Be sure to not just read labels, but understand ingredients as best as you can.