Take a look at the two packages for Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain cereal bars. One is made here for us. The other is made in the UK for Europeans. Both use food coloring to achieve a more “strawberry-ish” color.
In the UK, the coloring is achieved using beetroot. But in the US, the coloring is Red No. 40, a dye that has been associated with hyperactivity, and some types of cancer.
Why not use the beetroot? The answer is that Kellogg’s probably saves half a penny on each bar using an artificial dye rather than using a natural one.
So why does Kellogg’s use the beets in Europe? Because in Europe the regulator has required WARNING LABELS on products with Red 40. Just like cigarettes. Kellogg’s did the bottom line calculation and decided the loss in sales would cause much more damage than the savings on the food dye.
But in the US, the FDA has given red 40 a GRAS status (Generally recognized as Safe). The reason is one of approach:
In Europe manufacturers need to prove an ingredient is SAFE beyond a shadow of a doubt for it to be approved for use.
In the US researchers need to prove an ingredient is DANGEROUS beyond a shadow of a doubt for it to be banned.
Bummer. But as CSPI reports, the FDA is planning to review the matter:
Maybe there is hope for change. After all, our kids deserve better.
This is the ingredient list:
Mostly sugar and fillers, questionable preservatives, and artificial flavors. Sounds more like a candy bar than a cereal bar.
Even if Kellogg’s gets around to changing the coloring to beets, consider this a snack, just like Snickers, not wholesome way to start off the day.
What to do at the supermarket:
Don’t buy candy masquerading as a healthy food. If a bar starts off with sugars as the first ingredients, put it back and choose something else.