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As you may know, Maid Brigade is dedicated to preserving your family’s health and quality of life through two measures. One is to clean your house using only green and chemical-free cleaners. The other is to educate you about healthy and chemical-free living.

Of course, healthy living goes beyond just cleaning. It’s not enough to monitor what accidentally enters our bodies (chemicals from cleaners, secondhand smoke, etc.), but we also need to pay attention to what we put in our bodies on purpose — in other words, what we eat and what we let our children eat.

Kraft Foods has been at the forefront of food news this week and last with not one but two stories, one involving a change and the other involving a recall.

The Changes

Last week,Kraft announced some changes to be made to their foods, especially the ones deemed “kid-friendly,” to make them more friendly to all of us. Here are the announced changes:

  • Kraft Foods announced plans to pull the “yellow” coloring from at least three of its kid-friendly boxes in the United States and Canada.
  • In 2014, Kraft’s character-shaped product line will have six additional grams of whole grains; be lower in sodium and saturated fat; and use spices instead of artificial food dyes to recreate the finished dish’s famous yellow-orange color.
  • Yellow No. 5 and Yellow No. 6 dyes will be removed  from boxes containing pasta shaped like SpongeBob SquarePants, as well as those with Halloween- and winter-themed shapes.
  • Pastas themed after Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and “How to Train Your Dragon 2” from Dreamworks will also be free of food coloring.

However, the change will not affect Kraft’s plain elbow-shaped macaroni and cheese with “original flavor,” so perhaps the next time your child asks for the mac and cheese with shapes, you’ll actually have a reason to say yes!

The new natural color is an interesting change that echoes what a lot of food companies are doing. The color will come from spices such as paprika, and the pasta will also contain more whole grains and less sodium and saturated fat. This will allow the color to remain classic while putting a healthier spin on the finished dish.

As for the dyes, both which are used in Kraft products contain benzidine 4-amino-buphenyl, a man-made product derived from petroleum. Yellow No. 5 has been proven to show risks of hyperactivity in children, and Yellow No. 6 was associated with adrenal and testicular tumors. Needless to say, this is a change that few will find a reason to complain about, especially since the color will remain largely intact.

The Recall

Of course, even though Kraft has made some attempts to change for the better, their good news has been tainted by a recall. Recalls are always tough to swallow for those who have purchased the product, but when it’s a food item (and a food for kids at that!) the reaction is always more heated.

Last week, the U.S. Foood and Drug Administration announced that Kraft Foods Group has voluntarily recalled several types of string cheese due to a risk that the foods would spoil before their “Best When Used By Date.”  The voluntary recall came after several consumers complained about the products spoiling faster than their best by dates, and Kraft was fairly quick to act.

Twenty-two varieties of Kraft and Polly-O string cheese snacks were recalled, with “best by” dates between October 25, 2013 through February 11, 2014.  Consumers are advised not to eat them but instead return the cheese to the store where they bought it for a refund.

For a complete list of recalled products, and instructions on how to receive a refund, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website at www.fda.gov.  For more information about the recall, contact Kraft Foods Consumer Relations at 1-800-816-9432 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. (EST).

 

Kraft may be a product our kids love to smile about, but it’s just another example of how we need to look carefully at what we bring into our homes. The recall may be unfortunate, but at least they are attempting some changes to make their products healthier for us and our little ones. They and many others may have a long way to go, but from where I sit, it’s a pretty good place to start.