Let’s Leave the Colors in the Crayon Box

Colorful CrayonsRecently, I did a post that included a recipe for homemade Macaroni & Cheese.  In that post, I was discussing the backlash that Kraft is receiving because of its refusal to eliminate artificial dyes in their American version of Macaroni & Cheese.  The reason I say “American version” is because they have eliminated the artificial dyes in the European version because those countries refused to allow it on store shelves otherwise.  That begs the question:  if the artificial dyes can be eliminated from the European version of the same product, why can’t they (or won’t they) be eliminated from the American version?  Therein lies the controversy.

There has been a petition circulating for some time now, a petition that I gladly signed, requesting that Kraft do the right thing.  Now, if you’re new to this blog or to the dangers of processed foods and artificial dyes, let’s talk about why this is such a hot topic.

Artificial dyes do absolutely nothing to add to the nutritional value of a product.  They are there simply for aesthetics.  These dyes are derived from the same base that is found in candles, tar and the fuel you put in your car:  petroleum.  I’m going to assume that you wouldn’t knowingly give your child the sludge at the bottom of a fuel barrel as a snack.  But in essence, that’s what thousands, if not millions, of unsuspecting parents are doing.

Besides just being gross, consumption of artificial dyes poses a variety of health risks.  According to Dr. Mercola (www.mercola.com) these dyes cause a variety of behavioral problems in children.  These dyes have further been found to increase the risk of cancer.  And yet the FDA continues to allow them in foods, especially those marketed to children.

And if you think that by eliminating Kraft’s Macaroni & Cheese from your family’s diet you’ll be safe, think again.  Besides the obvious products such as cake mixes and frosting, artificial dyes can be found in a variety of popular “foods”.  They are lurking in cereals, snack chips, drink mixes, yogurt, snack/breakfast bars, hot dogs and even children vitamins and OTC medicines.

What to look for?  Read the labels for specific colors (red 40 or yellow 5 for example) or terms such as “artificial color”.  Avoiding processed foods and eating “real” foods instead will always be the best idea for you and your family.  But if you find yourself in those middle aisles of the store, at least read the labels and avoid those foods that clearly list the dyes.

It’s unfortunate that the FDA is not doing enough to regulate these ingredients and that food companies are not doing their part.  Maybe if enough consumers become more conscious shoppers and refuse to purchase these products, food companies will be forced to do the right thing once and for all.  We can only hope.

18 responses to “Let’s Leave the Colors in the Crayon Box

  1. Thanks for sharing this Penny! Great information and I think a lot of people don’t even realize how many unneccessary dyes and chemicals are in boxed and processed foods!

    • You’re right, most people don’t. I think it’s very deceptive, especially given the fact that these dyes not only don’t contribute to the nutritional value but are harmful. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Great Post Penny!This is such an important topic and I don’t think the business of artificial dyes in crafts do not get enough attention these days… your words are an eye opener!Thanks for this! :)

  3. Great post Penny, this is so infuriating! We just need to make lots of noise!

    • I agree!! Companies are taking advantage of busy parents who are being led to believe they are feeding their kids wholesome food. If we don’t take a stand and stop buying these products, they may never stop including these ingredients. It’s apparent the government and its agencies aren’t going to work on our behalf any time soon so a grass roots effort is in order. Thanks for commenting!!

  4. Thanks for this info! I talk with people a lot about artificial dyes (and petroleum in general) in skin care / personal care products and most people are surprised. We are very conditioned to believe the big companies and the TV ads, aren’t we?! It’s scary how many hidden problems there are in products on many store shelves.

  5. I couldn’t agree more Cheryl. It’s as though we are one big lab experiment and companies are profiting from our ignorance. That’s why it’s so important to get the message out there and hope that consumers will make better decisions!

  6. Yikes! I know I’ve become much ore aware since I’ve been a mom. I often look at the list of ingredients for any food I buy my family these days…if there are too many, I don’t buy it. I’ve been trying to stick to the organic produce section these days!

    • Those are both good shopping habits Debra! It’s a sure bet that a long list of ingredients equates to a long list of chemicals. And organic is definitely the way to go when possible. Thanks for stopping by!!

  7. As always, Penny, you inspire me to be more diligent. I get so lazy sometimes- fighting the battle of “mom, Billy has this at his house”. You inpsire me to fight the good fight because it’s imporant!!

    • I agree – when you have kids it can be more difficult. It’s aggravating that so much of the marketing is geared toward kids and parents who are busy and looking for something easy and convenient. Unfortunately, like anything in life, easy and convenient comes with a price tag. And while it can be unrealistic to eliminate 100% of these chemicals, the more we do the better job we’ll do. As always, thanks so much for stopping by!!

  8. FD Yellow #5….it’s everywhere!!! lol Thank you Penny! I am trying to keep my kids away from the processed foods (which is hard) and pushing lean proteins, fruits and veggies (they are not convinced by my arguement that red grapes are tastier than SweeTarts or chocolate). xo

    • Yes it IS everywhere. And shame on the FDA for allowing it. I agree – in today’s modern world, it can be very difficult to keep processed food away from kids. But the hope is that by introducing more real foods, they’ll discover new tastes that they LOVE and by eating more of them, will not be as inclined to eat the processed food. Every little bit helps!

  9. Totally agree here! I think if more people made a fuss, MAYBE the government might do something. Maybe??! ugh. Too much of this stuff in everything!

  10. I signed the petition, too. The whole thing just infuriates me. I can’t understand how our FDA got so effed up. It’s heartbreaking that they could care less about the health of our children, and are more concerned with making a buck.

    • Thanks for signing the petition Lana. And yes – it’s a travesty. By putting money first (in so many different areas) we have really allowed the ideals of this great country to go down the tubes. Maybe that’s why the saying goes “money is the root of all kinds of evil”.

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