Earlier this week, Nestle USA announced a commitment to remove all artificial flavors and colors from its line of chocolate candy products by the end of 2015. The move comes as a response to research conducted by the brand that indicated a strong preference for the removal of these artificial ingredients from its products.
The popular Nestle Crunch bar will now use real vanilla instead of artificial vanillin. Butterfinger’s new recipe will be replacing Red 40 and Yellow 5 food coloring with annatto, a natural food coloring that’s derived from the seeds of the achiote tree. Annatto is commonly used to color various cheeses and will help maintain Butterfinger’s signature orange center. It’s worth noting that there are anecdotal cases of food allergies related to annatto, many of which link to irritable bowel syndrome. In this letter to the editor of the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, a retired immunologist urges more studies be done on this potential link between an annatto food allergy and IBS. This blog post provides some more detail on the nature of annatto. If you suspect you have a food allergy, it’s recommended you do an elimination diet of any annatto-containing foods.
The removal of food dyes is still a positive step. In this report, the Center for Science in the Public Interest found common food dyes to contain carcinogens and cause things like increases in bladder and testes tumors in rats, as well as possible links between some dyes and hyperactivity in children. Yellow 5 and 6, for instance, were reported as possibly being contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals.
Though there is still plenty left to be desired in cleaning up our foods, Nestle’s decision is a victory for health that shows the public can vote with its dollars and voices. Any improvement in the food supply is a step in the right direction.