At least one Big Business is listening to its consumers. Nestlé announced this month that they will no longer be using artificial colors in its candy products and the chocolate makers hope that other food manufacturers will soon follow suit.
Artificial colors were highlighted in EWG’s recent Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives because of lingering questions about their safety and effects on human health. EWG research shows that artificial colors are heavily used in processed foods that have little nutritional value. The additive is an ingredient in about 12,500 products in EWG’s online food database, Food Scores: Rate Your Plate. Over the last 40 years, research has found the artificiality sprinkled into our foods puts the public at risk for certain cancers, birth defects, allergies, behavioral changes, and one of the most common reactions — hyperactivity in kids.
The move entails changes to about 75 recipes, including the reformulation of the Butterfinger. Remember that orange hue that colors Butterfinger’s crunchy center? Currently, that color is made by combining the synthetic dye Red 40 with Yellow 5. But these dyes will be replaced with a natural coloring called annatto.
“Annatto is a natural colorant that comes from the seeds [found in the fruit from the achiote] tree that grows in the sub-tropic region,” explains Leslie Mohr, the nutrition, health and wellness manager for Nestle Confections & Snacks.
The candy bars will begin appearing on shelves by mid-year (2015) and will be identified by a “No Artificial Flavors or Colors” label on the package.
Nestle isn’t the only chocolate giant remaking its candies. On Wednesday, Hershey announced it would reformulate its candies to use simpler ingredients that are easy to understand — “like fresh milk from local farms, roasted California almonds, cocoa beans and sugar—ingredients you recognize,” the company said in a statement.
Hershey did not offer a timeframe for making the switch.