Pizza Hut and Taco Bell restaurant chains have announced they’ll be removing artificial additives from their products, a move seen as a response to consumer advocacy and growing awareness of cancer-causing ingredients.

On Tuesday, Taco Bell said it will try the novel concept of using real pepper as opposed to “black pepper flavor” in its beef, and revealed plans to eliminate trans-fats in its foods by year’s end.

Notably, the company will also rid their nacho cheese of Yellow dye number 6, an ingredient shown to cause cancer in lab animals, and will remove Blue number 1 from its avocado ranch dressing, as well as carmine from its tortilla strips.

“Yellow 6 caused adrenal tumors in animals, though that is disputed by industry and the FDA. It may be contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals and occasionally causes severe hypersensitivity reactions,”a study by the Center for Science in the Public Interest found in 2010. “Yellow 6 adds an unnecessary risk to the food supply.”

“Blue 1 was not found to be toxic in key rat and mouse studies,” scientists noted, adding “but an unpublished study suggested the possibility that Blue 1 caused kidney tumors in mice, and a preliminary in vitro study raised questions about possible effects on nerve cells. Blue 1 may not cause cancer, but confirmatory studies should be conducted. The dye can cause hypersensitivity reactions.”

Pizza Hut will implement changes to its ingredients sooner, saying it will get rid of artificial colors and preservatives by August.

Both restaurants are part of the Yum! Brands fast food company, which also owns KFC, though the fried chicken purveyor has not announced it will implement similar measures.

While the moves may be too little, too late for the vast number of natural food enthusiasts who have already abandoned the corporate food chains altogether, the companies’ actions are still being hailed as a major victory for consumer advocacy.

Restaurants such as Chick-Fil-A, Subway and Panera Bread have all recently implemented ingredient changes in reaction to mounting pressure from critics, with the Chipotle chain going one step further by eliminating genetically-modified ingredients from its products.


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