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Another candymaker, Mars, is eliminating fake dyes

Big news in the fight to get fake dyes out of the candy — and other foods — that Americans eat.

Mars, Incorporated released a statement Friday saying it is eliminating  “all artificial colors from its human food products.” Among those products are a number of popular candies, including M&Ms, Snickers (a personal favorite), Dove, Milky Way, Twix and 3 Musketeers.

Mars follows Nestle USA and Hershey, and the company has been under tremendous pressure to ditch the dyes, which aren’t used in Europe, BTW. This decision by three biggies likely will lead to other food manufacturers making changes when it comes to these synthetic dyes.

The food giant isn’t saying the move was made because there are problems with the dyes. Rather, that it came to the decision because the company wants “to meet evolving consumer preferences.”

Let me take that out of corporate speak. This happened because consumers — particularly parents — have been bugging Mars, the FDA and anyone who would listen to get the synthetic dyes out of food. People spoke in relentless opposition and Mars knew it had to follow consumer demands or else profits would suffer. Parents are a formidable group. Look at what happened with soda and kiddie menus. Parents put the pressure on restaurant chains and one by one they’ve pulled soda off those menus aimed at children. 

There is a lot of evidence that artificial dyes set off inattention, hyperactivity and other behavioral reactions in children, according to the advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest, which has been leading the charge on this front.

In one particular petition on Change.org, mom Renee Shutters — along with the CSPI — asked that Mars stop using the dyes. She told the story of how her son, Trenton, was having behavior issues and once she started him on an elimination diet, she discovered a dramatic change for the better in his behavior after the fake dyes were taken out of his diet. She says in just TWO DAYS things like nightmares were over. And it wasn’t just the family who saw difference. She recounts how a hockey coach couldn’t believe it was the same child when a smiling, cooperative Trenton came back after starting the elimination diet. (More than 215,000 signed that petition, BTW.)

The work isn’t over yet. The CSPI is pushing for the FDA to ban Yellow 5, Red 40 and a host of other synthetic dyes used in foods.

Stay tuned. Better yet, let food manufacturers and your legislators know you, too, are opposed to synthetic dyes in your food.