Nestlé Removing Artificial Colors and Flavors From Its Chocolate Candy

Nestlé USA recently announced that it will remove artificial colors and flavors from all of its chocolate candy products by the end of 2015. That means that over 250 of the company’s products and 10 of its brands will be free of the controversial ingredients. By the middle of this year, store shelves will feature Nestlé products bearing the label “No Artificial Flavors or Colors.” 

Nestlé will replace the artificial colors and flavors with ones derived from natural sources. There are several examples. In the Butterfinger candy bar, Red 40 and Yellow 5 will be replaced with annatto, which is derived from the seeds in the fruit of the achiote tree. Natural vanilla flavor will replace vanillin in Crunch bars.

This is part of Nestlé’s desire to create healthier products. Studies have linked artificial colors and flavors to hyperactivity. A 2004 review of studies on artificial food colors found that studies demonstrate the “overall effect of AFCs on hyperactivity.” A 2007 study found that artificial colors “result in increased hyperactivity in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the general population.” In 2011, an advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that artificial food colors may exacerbate symptoms in children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder 

Removing artificial colors and flavors is not the only thing Nestlé is doing to improve its products. The company is also working to reduce the sugar, sodium and fat content of its products. The company’s goal, set in 1999, is for the level of trans fats in its products to not exceed three percent of the total fat in foods, or one percent of the daily total energy intake. Nestlé is removing all trans fat from partially hydrogenated oils from all of its food and beverages. There is a difference between trans fats that naturally occur in dairy and meat and artificial trans fats, such as those in hydrogenated vegetable oils. The trans fats in dairy and meat are small. Most of the trans fats in people’s diets are artificial. Experts recommend limiting trans fats to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Between 2000 and 2010, Nestlé reduced the overall sugar content of its products by 34 percent. In 2007, the company announced a mandatory policy to make ongoing reductions in the sugar levels of its products, including meals, snacks and drinks. Nestlé has some specific goals when it comes to reducing sugar levels, including reducing the sugar content in a serving of its breakfast cereals marketed to children or teenagers to nine grams or less by 2015. By 2016, Nestlé plans to further reduce sugar content content in products by 10 percent that do not meet the Nestle Nutritional Foundation criteria.

Back in 2005, Nestlé introduced a policy to significantly reduce the sodium content of its products. Nestlé’s goal is to reduce the sodium content in its products by 10 percent by 2015, a goal it set in 2010. A diet high in sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which is the leading cause of cardiovascular disease, accounting for two-thirds of all strokes and half of heart disease. 

Photo: Nestlé