General Mills says it’s finally ditching artificial flavors and colors from all of its cereal brands.
The move comes after Kraft and Nestlé have made similar announcements, and after General Mills earned praise for confirming its original Cheerios cereal does not contain any genetically modified ingredients.
“Consumers increasingly want the ingredient list for their cereal to look like what they pull out of their pantry,” Jim Murphy, president of General Mills U.S. cereal business, told the Star Tribune, stating that consumers don’t want labels full of “colors with numbers and ingredients you can’t pronounce.”
To start, popular children’s cereals Trix, Cocoa Puffs and Reese’s Puffs will be free from artificial colors and flavors by the end of the year.
According to Murphy, 60 percent of General Mills’ cereal products are already free of artificial colors or flavors. The company anticipates 90 percent of the General Mills’ brands will be free of the controversial ingredients by the end of 2016, and the entire range of cereal products in the General Mills family will be free from artificial colors and flavors in 2017.
“The look is important,” Murphy said. “People taste with their eyes sometimes,” suggesting why the controversial ingredients have been so important to the brand. But Murphy says the changes will be mostly “imperceptible” to consumers. However, popular children’s cereal Trix will no longer include blue and green colored puffs.
“Trix is known for color, so this hit Trix pretty hard,” said Kate Gallagher, a General Mills cereal developer. According to the Consumerist, “natural ingredients the company tried to get those same colors didn’t work out so well.”
“It didn’t deliver the brighter color and it was imparting a flavor we didn’t want,” Gallagher said.
Artificial colors have been linked to behavioral issues in children—ironic, since parents often purchase these colorful cereals to ensure their children eat breakfast so they'll be focused and energized for school and activities. The European Union has banned several artificial colors, including some of those found in General Mills’ products for their connection to serious behavioral problems, including ADHD in children.
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