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Recently, 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) 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.

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