Mac & Cheese: Facts You Don’t Want To Know…But Should

Beakers and tubes filled with colorful chemicalsWhat exactly is in that delicious, piping hot bowl of creamy macaroni and cheese? This depends…is it the boxed or homemade version? If it’s the former…you may not want to know what you’re about to eat.

But you really need to.

Ever heard of Yellow Dye #5 and Yellow Dye #6? They’re what give boxed macaroni that bright orange-yellow color. They are also two potentially harmful chemicals.

Also known as Tartrazine and Sunset Yellow respectively, both yellow dyes are man-made chemicals derived from petroleum, which is a crude oil.

These yellow dyes already been banned in countries like Norway and Austria and are linked to a host of disturbing side-effects like asthma, eczema and migraines, in addition to hyperactivity and learning impairments in children. The Center for Science in the Public Interest reports that both dyes are also contaminated with known carcinogens.

In response to increasing campaigns to remove these chemicals, a Kraft spokesperson released a public statement, which said, “The safety and quality of our products is our highest priority and we take consumer concerns very seriously.” “We carefully follow the laws and regulations in the countries where our products are sold. So in the U.S., we only use colors that are approved and deemed safe for food use by the FDA.”

Critics have stated that FDA approval isn’t necessarily a stamp of safety, and cited 91 artificial dyes previously used in foods and cosmetics that were at one point FDA-approved, but are now banned. They also state that the two dyes are easily replaced with paprika and beta carotene, two natural substances that don’t alter the look or taste of the food, but are more expensive to use.

USDA vs. FDA: What’s The Difference?

A family enjoying a healthy meal at the dining tableHere’s something you may have realized…there are a LOT of government agencies out there – and many of them are deeply influential regarding how we live our lives.

…even how and what we eat.

Two of the most important agencies that primarily affect our food every single day are the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

But what specifically are these agencies responsible for?

The USDA

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), also known as the Agriculture Department, is the U.S. federal executive department responsible for developing and executing government policies that will help farming, agriculture, forestry, and food communities thrive. It’s overall goals are to meet the needs of farmers and ranchers, promote agricultural trade and production, work to assure food safety, improve nutrition and health by providing food assistance and nutrition education, and protect natural resources, and foster rural communities.

The USDA can be contacted here.

The FDA

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or USFDA) is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services – which is one of the United States federal executive departments.

The FDA is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety, tobacco products, dietary supplements, prescription and over-the-counter medicine, vaccines, biopharmaceuticals, blood transfusions, medical devices, electromagnetic radiation emitting devices (ERED), and veterinary products.

The FDA also enforces other laws, including sanitation requirements on interstate travel and control of disease on products ranging from certain household pets to sperm donation for assisted reproduction.

The FDA can be contacted here.