Big news! Mars, Inc. recently announced that it will remove synthetic food dyes from its entire human food portfolio. Not only is this a step in the right direction, but Mars, Inc. has taken the lead on something that many of us have been fighting for over the past few years. Along with this monumental decision comes the hope that others in the food industry will recognize the need for change and follow along.
Mars, Inc. is the maker of M & M’s, Skittles, and many other food products.
According to Mars:
“Mars, Incorporated….will remove all artificial colors from its human food products as part of a commitment to meet evolving consumer preferences….Products across the range of the company’s chocolate, gum, confection, food and drink businesses will be affected by the change, which will take place incrementally over the next five years.“
A big shout out to Mars, Inc. for listening to the concerns of consumers (spearheaded by the Center for Science in the Public Interest). For years we’ve been worried that artificial food dyes are many times made from petroleum and possess a “rainbow of risks to children.” Those risks include hyperactivity in children, cancer (in animal studies), and allergic reactions. We’ve been saying for years that adding artificial food coloring serves no nutritional purpose. It’s sole purpose is cosmetic, making the food more appealing and marketable to kids. Not cool.
There’s no question that this is a huge advance for parents and children. I’m all for companies taking steps in the right direction. Every small (or large) step helps to make the world a bit safer for everyone.
Here’s the crazy part that I’m really having a hard time understanding.
Many candy companies in the U.S. (including Mars, Inc.!) have used artificial food coloring for the candy they sell and distribute in the United States, but that same candy sold in Europe gets its coloring from natural sources. Food and other products containing artificial food coloring and sold is Europe would have a warning label in that would say: “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” We have no warning label in the US.
This is not a new issue. Mars, Inc. UK removed artificial food dyes in 2006. But Mars, Inc. has continued to use artificial food coloring in the US for 10 years!
Kudos to Mars, Inc. for FINALLY removing artificial food coloring from their US products.
But now the real question is why will it take 5 years to phase out the use of synthetic food dyes? There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Mars, Inc. is clearly able to remove dangerous artificial food dyes from their products and has done so in other countries, yet for some reason the process will take 5 years to implement in America.
That’s 5 more years of our children being exposed to the dangers of synthetic food dyes.
Also, it’s important to point out that this decision is only regarding colors, not artificial flavors. We still have some work to do!
What do you think about the Mars, Inc. decision to remove artificial food coloring from its entire human food portfolio?
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photo credit: Forever M&Ms via photopin (license)