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.


Food bank fare


I was at the grocery store on the weekend and as I was leaving I noticed a display in support of our local food bank. It was one of those pre-made packages where you pay something like $5 and items to feed a family of four are donated to the food bank. I didn’t get a very close look at all of the contents but I did notice a package of Kraft Dinner. Perhaps it’s the dietitian in me. Perhaps I’m too much of a food snob. Whatever the reason, the inclusion of Kraft Dinner in this package really bothered me.

Kraft Dinner is pretty inexpensive. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen boxes of it on sale for $.99 before, possibly even less than that. Even when it’s full-price I think it’s only marginally more than that. Wouldn’t it be better to donate something that food bank users might have more difficulty purchasing? Perhaps something with a little bit more nutrition, and something which doesn’t necessitate the purchase of other more expensive foods (i.e. milk and butter or margarine) to prepare? Why not buy some pasta and a jar of sauce, for example.

Pick up an extra (or extras) of something that you’re buying for yourself or your family, rather than relying on the prepackaged selection in the store. Some other nutritious non-perishable items include: whole grain crackers or cereals, canned tuna or salmon, canned beans, powdered milk or shelf-stable milk, nut butters, canned fruit (in juice or water), canned vegetables. Even better, donate money directly to the food bank so that they can purchase fresh food for their customers. Spices and condiments are also a much neglected category when it comes to foods banks. Think how much better you can make the most basic meal taste if you have some herbs and pepper.

Think outside the blue box of orange pasta when donating to the food bank.