5 Big-Name Food Companies Removing Artificial Ingredients from Their Products

by: Lindsay Hutton
For busy moms, deciding which packaged foods are safe for your child's breakfast, lunch, and snacks can be daunting, especially when you are faced with a long line of artificial ingredients, preservatives, and dyes on the recipe label. Although these ingredients are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or considered GRAS (generally recognized as safe), a recent Nielsen study found 49 percent of households try to avoid artificial colors and flavors. Check out which big-name food companies are listening and opting for a more natural approach when it comes to their products. Just remember — removing these artificial ingredients from your child's favorite foods doesn't necessarily make them "healthy." Make sure to check the label for additional added preservatives and unnatural ingredients.
Kraft Macaroni and Cheese
The iconic neon orange cheese of your child's favorite boxed pasta will be no more! Kraft plans to remove all artificial preservatives and synthetic colors from their Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and Kraft Dinner by January 2016, and will replace them with colors from natural sources such as paprika, turmeric, and annatto.

The change also comes among mounting research that chemical food dyes, including Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 found in Kraft products, contain known carcinogens and are linked to hyperactivity in children. Kraft says the move to natural ingredients is not in response to these reports, and instead attributed it to "changing family preferences."

Nestle Butterfinger Cups
Nestlé USA
Nestlé says it will remove all artificial flavors and FDA-certified colors, including Red 40 and Yellow 5, from all of their chocolate products by the end of 2015. This includes Nestlé Butterfinger®, Crunch® and Baby Ruth®, and will be identified by a "No Artificial Flavors or Colors" label on each package. Going forward, any new chocolate or non-chocolate product launched will be made without artificial ingredients.The company cites Nielsen's 2014 Global Health & Wellness Survey that found "more than 60 percent of Americans say no artificial colors or flavors is important to their food purchase decisions" as the motivation behind the change.

In addition to their chocolate products, Nestlé also plans to remove all artificial flavors and colors from their frozen pizzas and snacks, which include over 250 products and six brands in the U.S., by the end of 2015. These brands include DiGiorno®, Tombstone®, California Pizza Kitchen®, Jack's®, Hot Pockets®, and Lean Pockets®. All newly launched Nestlé products will also reflect these changes.

General Mills Honey Nut Cheerios
General Mills
Cereal is a go-to breakfast staple on busy mornings. About 60 percent of General Mills (GM) cereals, including Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Chex, are already free of artificial colors and flavors. GM says that number will jump to 90 percent by the end of of 2016, when cereals like Trix and Reese's Puffs go artificial-free. Trix cereal will now only have four colors instead of six — blue and green Trix will be discontinued since GM couldn't find a suitable natural alternative.

Their entire cereal line will be completely free of artificial colors and flavors by the end of 2017, with cereals containing marshmallows, like Lucky Charms, to be among the last to roll out.

GM plans on swapping out chemical food dyes with natural coloring from healthy sources like vegetables, fruit, and spices, citing "consumers' changing tastes" as the motivation behind the change.

Campbell Soup Company
Campbell Soup Company
Chicken and stars and Spaghettio's are lunchtime favorites for many kids. Campbell Soup Company says it will stop using artificial flavors and colors in all of its products sold in North America by mid-2018. The company, which owns several brands, including Pepperidge Farms, Spaghettio's, and Bolthouse Farms, is planning to take the next few years to find alternatives to current ingredients that don't meet the "natural" standard.
Kelloggs Corn Flakes
As of today, half of all Kellogg's cereals produced for North America contain no artificial flavors, and 75 percent contain no artificial colors. Kellogg's plans to discontinue use of all artificial ingredients across their line of branded cereals, Eggo frozen products, and several of their branded snack bars by 2018.
Take Out Pizza in Cardboard Box
Restaurants Removing Artificial Ingredients
In addition to many major packaged food brands, several well-known fast food restaurants are also opting to remove artificial ingredients from their menus. Choose from this list of restaurants the next time you grab take out on your way to one of your child's activities:
  • Papa John's. The company plans to eliminate 14 ingredients, including corn syrup, preservatives, and artificial colors, by the end of 2016.
  • Panera Bread. It plans to remove 150 artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors, and preservatives from their soups, sandwiches, salads, and certain baked goods by the end of 2016.
  • Subway. The company says it will gradually make changes over the next 18 months to remove artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives from their menu.
  • Noodles & Company. It has plans to remove all artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives from soups, sauces, and dressings by the end of 2015.
  • Taco Bell. The company plans to remove artificial colors and flavors from most of their menu items by the end of 2015. The chain also plans to phase out high fructose corn syrup and palm oil.
  • Pizza Hut. They plan to remove artificial colors and flavors from most of their menu items by the end of 2015.
  • Chipotle. The first national chain to cook entirely with non-GMO ingredients, Chipotle's next plan is to begin removing artificial preservatives, which are still in the burritos.