In response to growing consumer demand for more natural products, global confectionery manufacturer Mars Inc. says it will remove all artificial colors from its human food products portfolio, including the M&M’s and Skittles brands, over the next five years. The Virginia-based company says it is working with its suppliers to find alternatives that meet its quality and safety standards—and maintain the vibrant colors consumers have come to expect from its brands.
“We’re in the business of satisfying and delighting the people who love our products,” says Grant Reid, president and CEO of Mars. “Eliminating all artificial colors from our human food portfolio is a massive undertaking, and one that will take time and hard work to accomplish. Our consumers are the boss, and we hear them. If it’s the right thing to do for them, it’s the right thing to do for Mars.”
However, Mars is not the first company to announce this kind of change. Last year, Nestlé USA pledged to remove all artificial flavors and colors from its chocolate candy products, including Crunch, Baby Ruth and Butterfinger, by the end of 2015. Hershey also began manufacturing Kisses and its signature chocolate bars without artificial flavors in 2015. And, Kellogg’s and General Mills have committed to establishing a timeline to remove artificial ingredients.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) applauded Mars’s decision, calling it “a huge advance for parents and children and should serve as a powerful incentive for the rest of the food industry to follow suit.”
“The FDA should level the playing field for the whole industry by banning Yellow 5, Red 40 and other synthetic dyes used in food,” says Michael Jacobson, CPSI president. “There is simply too much evidence demonstrating these artificial dyes trigger inattention, hyperactivity and other behavioral reactions in children. The use of these neurotoxic chemicals to provide a purely cosmetic function in foods, particularly foods designed to appeal to children, must stop.”
The Mars Chocolate manufacturing facility in Topeka, KS was selected as Food Engineering’s 2015 Plant of the Year.