The World’s Largest Cereal Company Is Ditching Artificial Ingredients

Kellogg is the latest food firm to turn toward plant-based dyes and flavors.

(Photo: Flickr)

Aug 5, 2015· 0 MIN READ
Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor.

Achiote, a tropical shrub native to Central and South America, is sometimes known by the common name lipstick tree. Brazil and Peru are the leading growers of the small tree, which is farmed for its small, red seeds that have the propensity to stain everything they touch red—from the pork in the Mexican dish cochinita pibil to cosmetic products like, yes, lipstick.

The obscure crop may soon face a boom, however, as it’s a primary substitute for artificial food dyes like Red No. 40, which major American food companies have been ditching in droves. On Tuesday, Kellogg, the world’s largest breakfast cereal company, became the latest to announce that it is removing the remaining artificial flavors and colors from its cereal and snacks. Currently, 75 percent of its cereals do not contain artificial colors, and the majority do not rely on artificial flavors. Both numbers should climb to 100 percent by 2018, Reuters reports.

Earlier this year, General Mills made a similar announcement, and other food-industry giants—including Hershey, Nestlé, Kraft, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Subway—have all said they will no longer use artificial colors or ingredients.

That means the red rings in a bowl of Froot Loops may soon rely on achiote for their saturated tone, with turmeric providing yellow coloring, chlorophyll lending its green hue, and spirulina its blue. None of them has been linked, albeit not without controversy, to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, as artificial food dyes have been.