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.