31 Flavors, Not Colors: Baskin-Robbins and Dunkin’ Donuts Slash Artificial Coloring

baskin-robbins ice cream
Image care of Baskin-Robbins

Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc., the parent company of both the Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins chains, announced last Thursday that it would be removing artificial colors from its American products by 2018.

“This is a significant undertaking on the part of our product development teams and suppliers,” said Dunkin’ Brands Chairman and CEO Nigel Travis in a press release.

“However, we are committed to meet the evolving needs of our customers, including their preference for more nutritional transparency and simpler ingredients, while maintaining the great taste and the fun, vibrant colors expected from Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins products.”

Products that are currently being reworked by research and development teams at Dunkin’ Donuts include donut icings and toppings as well as frozen beverages, baked goods, breakfasts sandwiches, and coffee flavorings.

Baskin Robbins will be removing synthetic colors from its ice creams, syrups, sauces, sprinkles, and beverages.

Neither brand will remove select supplier-branded ingredients produced by other companies and used as toppings or mix-ins in ice creams. Baskin-Robbins will take a longer period of time to replace artificial coloring in the decorative elements on its ice cream cakes.

Dunkin’ Brands already worked to lower sodium and sugar content in its products in 2014.

This announcement follows that of several other food companies, including General Mills, which announced it would be removing artificial flavors and colors from its cereals in 2015, and Kraft, which finally made the same announcement in 2015 after refusing to remove artificial colors from its macaroni and cheese products for two years.

Certain food dyes were banned in Europe in 2008, after a 2007 study showed that these colors were linked to behavioral problems in children. The FDA elected not to place the same ban in the U.S., despite a petition from The Center for Science in the Public Interest.

In 2016, a study found that forty-three percent of foods marketed to children in the U.S. contained artificial colors and food dyes.

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Emily Monaco
Emily Monaco

Emily Monaco is an American food and culture writer based in Paris. She loves uncovering the stories behind ingredients and exposing the face of our food system, so that consumers can make educated choices. Her work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Vice Munchies, and Serious Eats.