General Mills is taking another step to give consumers what they want. Last year, they made their original Cheerios GMO-free. Today, the food manufacturer announced it’s removing artificial colors and flavors from all cereals, according to ABC News.
My first thought when I heard that General Mills’ cereals will be free from artificial colors and flavors by the end of 2017 was, “How will they make Lucky Charms look and taste the same way?”
General Mills will use fruits, vegetables and spices to recreate the taste and look of Lucky Charms — as well as the remaining 40 percent of its cereals that still use artificial flavors and colors.
My next thought was, "I need a template for a story like this where I can simply stick in the name of the latest company to ditch artificial ingredients."
I seem to be writing about this topic at least once a month. Since the beginning of this year, I’ve mentioned that Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Nestle chocolate and Newcastle Brown Ale are all getting rid of either artificial flavors or colors, or both.
What’s going on here? Why are these companies changing their tried-and-true formulas, especially for foods that are kid favorites? Many kids don’t like any change to the taste of their breakfast cereal or the orange glow of their mac and cheese. Are the companies suddenly committed to the public’s health more than they are to their profits?
No. Companies are changing formulas because consumers are demanding healthier ingredients. Their profits have taken a hit because consumers have stopped spending as much on traditional processed foods, choosing healthier foods over traditionally popular foods. Consumers have forced brands into a place where they have to make the changes.
I’ve been optimistic about these changes that take companies a lot of time and research for them to be able to make. With announcement after announcement from major food manufacturers and restaurants, it could be easy to think we’re winning the war against unhealthy food.
We haven’t won the war. We’ve won some small battles, but there are many more to be fought. These foods that have artificial flavors and colors removed may still be made with GMO ingredients, dairy that comes from cows that have been given artificial growth hormones, crops that are sprayed heavily with pesticides and other ingredients of concern.
It’s not time to think the tide has turned and we can expect food companies to keep making their foods healthier on their own. We still need to let companies know what further changes we want made to our foods. We need to say, “Thank you for what you just did. Great job. What are you working on next to make our foods healthier?”
Watch the full report from ABC News: