Nestlé Drops Artificial Coloring From All Chocolates, Hershey Makes Similar Promise The Next Day

Tuesday, Nestlé executives announced that they will be removing all artificial flavorings and artificial colorings from all of its chocolate in the U.S. by the end of the year. Wednesday, Hershey, another chocolate giant, announced a similar promise to appease the growing population of parents who have urged manufacturers to go back to natural ingredients in all products aimed at children.

Nestlé will be changing about 75 product recipes in a move that some parents say couldn’t come soon enough.

“Consumers have been telling us that artificial colors and flavors are becoming a decision factor when they’re making food purchases,” Leslie Mohr, the nutrition, health and wellness manager for Nestlé’s candies said, according to NPR. Besides for the company’s own market research, the message was made loud and clear on consumer inspired petitions, many of which claimed that artificial coloring contributes to hyperactivity in children.

An announcement from Hersey on Wednesday stated that the chocolate company would also be remaking its candy. Hersey says that all ingredients in its candy will soon come from simpler ingredients “like fresh milk from local farms, roasted California almonds, cocoa beans and sugar—ingredients you recognize,” though the statement did not indicate a time frame like Nestlé’s did. It seems as though the race of the chocolate giants is on, who can win the hearts and wallets of parents looking for more natural alternatives faster? Looks like it’s Crunch time — or maybe Hershey’s Kiss time.

Though neither company admitted that there were any health risks from their products current formulas, artificial coloring has been previously linked through scientific studies to ADHD behavior. The FDA recognized the growing body of evidence, but its advisory committee felt that the evidence was not strong enough in the general population to warrant any changes to American food manufacturing or labeling.

“Exposure to food and food components, including AFC and preservatives, may be associated with behavioral changes, not necessarily related to hyperactivity, in certain susceptible children with ADHD and other problem behaviors, and possibly in susceptible children from the general population. Findings suggest that this food related triggering of behavioral changes is not due to an inherent neurotoxic property of the food or food components, including AFC and preservatives, but appears to result from a unique intolerance exhibited by certain predisposed children to a variety of food items and color additives. The etiology of this type of unique intolerance is unclear but may involve genetic, endocrine, or immunologic pathways.”

Last year the Center for Science in the Public Interest addressed parents’ concern over artificial ingredients and their link to behavioral problems.

“A possible link between food ingredients and adverse behaviors such as hyperactivity was first raised in the 1970s, and while it attracted the attention of scientists as well as the public, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) largely dismissed it. Over the past 40 years, dozens of studies have demonstrated that food dyes and other ingredients can prompt adverse behavioral responses in children.”

Recently, an investigative journalist for the BMJ reported that the sugar industry has elaborate financial ties to health studies, claiming that “questionable funding” from the sugar industry corporations — including Nestle — donated “unprecedented” funds to research studies in an attempt to control health policy.

Health policy aside, it would seem as though consumer demand and the growing availability of alternative products have successfully influenced Nestlé and Hershey, at least when it comes to candy.

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