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You Can Thank the 'Food Babe' for Forever Changing Kraft Mac 'n' Cheese

Food giant Kraft has announced that it will phase out artificial coloring in its mac and cheese products, replacing Yellow 5 and 6 with paprika, annatto, and turmeric.
Hilary Pollack
Los Angeles, US
Photo via Flickr user Mike Chaput

By now, you've probably been privy to some of the drama surrounding Vani Hari, a.k.a. the Food Babe, a self-professed renegade against the "chemicals" found in processed foods who has found her calling in life to be raising as much alarmism as possible over such imminent dangers as "microwaves" and "nitrogen."

She has convinced hundreds of thousands of people that there are chunks of yoga mat in their cereal (there's not) and beaver ass-juice in their vanilla ice cream (nope). And despite countless editorials and exposés over the past few months about her wonky science and penchant for demonization of any ingredient that she doesn't personally recognize, her latest campaign has just succeeded—and changed the look of one of America's favorite comfort foods.

Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is about to get a grayish makeover after the fallout from a March 2013 petition started by the Food Babe that collected more than 365,000 signatures calling for the abolition of artificial colors in the food—those which give it its nostalgic, fluorescent glow. Few would argue that macaroni and cheese is a health food to begin with, but Hari's primary qualms are Yellow 5 and Yellow 6, due to their potential ties to hyperactivity in children, a "negative impact on children's ability to learn," and "long-term problems" such as skin rashes and asthma. (Most of these claims are based on this 2010 study from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.)

After a couple of years of working on reformulation so that minimal flavor and aesthetic value would be sacrificed to accommodate the push for a more natural product, Kraft finally announced this week that starting in January 2016, it will begin using paprika, annatto, and turmeric to achieve that striking golden hue rather than artificial coloring. A representative from the Illinois-based company told The Associated Press, "We weren't ready to change the product until we were confident that Kraft Macaroni & Cheese tastes like Kraft Macaroni & Cheese."

Easy Mac, Premium Flavors, and the brand's other mac and cheese varieties will follow suit and be stripped of all artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives by the end of next year.

Is our childhood favorite about to be destroyed? Probably not. But kiss a much-loved version of our cheesy, carby favorite farewell.