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Originally published September 5 2015

Big Food corporations begin removing toxic dyes from products as health-conscious wave sweeps America

by Jennifer Lea Reynolds

(NaturalNews) As more people are becoming increasingly conscious about the ingredients in their foods and demanding access to healthier options, large food corporations are finally stepping up to the plate to meet Americans' requests.

Most people are aware that Chipotle has gone GMO-free, Panera has created a "No-No" list that outlines the specific additives to be removed from more than 150 foods, and Subway - Jared debacle aside - apparently rid its breads of the harmful "yoga mat" chemical azodicarbonamide.

People's desire to eat healthy is even making its way to cereal aisles, where some companies are committed to coloring their foods with natural alternatives instead of artificial ones. This is a significant move considering the fact that the cereal aisle is known for having a large amount of sugary items laden with unhealthy additives and dyes designed to enhance flavor and add visual appeal.

For example, General Mills, the makers of Trix cereal, plan to omit their green and blue colors because healthier coloring options aren't available. As for their red colors, the company is turning to radishes and strawberries to create a similar hue. However, they want consumers to know that it will look different from the vibrant shades that previously existed in Trix, that the process will likely involve higher costs, and that the colors obtained from fruits and vegetables are typically more sensitive to acidity and heat.

Natural food colors present challenges for companies and consumers alike, but it's worth it for better health

Therefore, it's a time of change for consumers and Big Food manufacturers alike. Consumers must adjust to colors that might no longer exist and be comfortable breaking away from the shades they've become so familiar with throughout the years. At the same time, food corporations will likely be making adjustments as they learn about the newer coloring process.

"We haven't been able to get that same vibrant color," said Kate Gallager, General Mills' cereal developer. But the fact that they're working on such options is hopeful and certainly in line with meeting the surge in consumers' healthier food preferences.

Even Whole Foods is on board; their naturally-colored sprinkles are appealing to those who don't want to top their children's cupcakes with harsh chemicals. However, along with the move towards better health comes a taste bud struggle. One customer who bought such sprinkles for her child said her husband thinks the taste is reminiscent of fish, which is not something that goes particularly well with icing and cake.

As for Subway, they're aiming to produce banana peppers that forego the synthetic dye they've been using; instead, they plan to maintain a bright yellow hue by using turmeric. Panera is also removing titanium dioxide from its mozzarella cheese, which means it will likely have a yellowish color that people aren't used to seeing. They also maintain that some of their cookies will have a more mellow shade that is different from the ones customers are used to.

Listen up, Big Food: Americans want to get healthy more than they want to eat bright colors

"You have to remove some of your expectations," says Panera's head baker, Tom Gumpel.

Still, fears that consumers won't gravitate towards the change due to alterations in taste and appearance as well as higher costs persist. "We have to deliver bold colors and flavors, or people will stop buying," said Will Papa, chief research and development officer at Hershey, which makes Jolly Ranchers, Twizzlers and Reese's.

It is obvious that people want better options, and they're willing to pay more and get used to newer tastes. Not only do they want to know what's in their food, they want corporations to take the steps needed to improve it if it's deemed unhealthy. Those are the foods they are likely to spend their money on. Corporations and regulations that stand against making such changes, including shunning GMO labeling, are more likely to meet consumer resistance and encounter dwindling sales.

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