Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Will there be KD in the nanny state?


I have mixed feelings about the petition by a couple of food bloggers in the US for Kraft to remove the food dyes (yellow #5 and yellow #6) from their ubiquitous Kraft Dinner.

Initially, I was going to write a post about how frivolous I think the petition is. How removing food dyes from KD is not going to make it any less nutritionally void. You know, play devil’s advocate, ruffle a few feathers, because that’s what I like to do. While I do believe this to be true, and a part of me thinks that advocacy efforts could be put to much better use, I do also see some merit in their efforts. Realistically, people are not going to stop eating Kraft Dinner, or feeding it to their children. And you know, as an occasional treat that shouldn’t be a big deal.

Why does Kraft Dinner in the UK (and some other European countries) use natural food colourings rather than the artificial yellows used in Canada and the US? This is because their governments have decided to err on the side of caution. Where there is indication that a small number of individuals suffer allergic reactions from exposure to these colourings, and there is insufficient research to determine whether or not these dyes may have harmful long-term effects (such as being carcinogens) instead of allowing the population to unwittingly assume the risks they have taken steps to protect their citizens by banning these dyes. I’m all for that sort of initiative on the part of government. Oh sure, some of you might say that it’s a nanny state, we should be allowed to have our unnaturally brilliantly coloured nutritionally void food if we want to. You know me though, I like a good old nanny state if it’s going to be looking out for my better interests.

Sadly, our governments (in Canada and the US) are far more concerned with pandas and drones than the safety of our food supply. And that’s where efforts such as those by the bloggers become worthwhile. Yes, we should continue to put pressure on our governments to better regulate food additives, in the meantime if we can convince food manufactures to voluntarily remove these dyes from the foods they make then that’s a positive step in the right direction. So, while KD would not necessarily have been my first choice of food to target, if the formulation of this product is changed then hopefully the formulation of others will follow suit.

For more information on food dyes check out the report: Food Dyes a Rainbow of Risks by CSPI.

Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people see food and nutrition from a different perspective and understand that nutrition and health are not necessarily a result of personal choice.

4 thoughts on “Will there be KD in the nanny state?

  1. Why doesn’t Kraft use decent ingredients here in the US when they do it in the UK? Is it the bottomline? probably. My children ate mac and cheese I made at home and without petrochemicals as ingredients. That just makes sense. The unfortunate thing is that many parents do not know how bad these dyes, etc. are, what they do to our bodies, to their children’s brains.


    • Jen,

      It’s my understanding that they use safer ingredients in the UK because the government there has banned the use of the food dyes that are used over here. I’m sure that you’re correct in the assumption that it’s cheaper and easier to use the manufactured dyes. Unfortunately, our governments appear to be less concerned about health and disease prevention.


      • I hope Kraft and companies like it will “get it.” It has been proven that synthetic food dyes affect all children. Wouldn’t it be something if the guys making the decisions about stuff like this had children who showed the behaviors, health problems, etc. the rest of us are experiencing. Would the bottomline be children’s health and not the money they make?


  2. Pingback: Some thoughts on M&Ms and natural dyes | bite my words

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