Mozzarella cheese at Panera restaurants won’t be as glaringly white. Banana peppers in Subway sandwiches won’t be the same exact shade of yellow. Trix cereal will have two fewer colors.
Food makers are purging their products of artificial dyes as people increasingly eschew anything in their food they don’t feel is natural. But replicating the vivid colors Americans expect with ingredients like beets and carrots isn’t always easy.
In fact, General Mills couldn’t find good alternatives for the blue and green pieces in Trix, so the company is getting rid of those colors when the cereal is reformulated later this year. The red pieces – which will be colored with radishes and strawberries – will also look different.
“We haven’t been able to get that same vibrant color,” said Kate Gallager, General Mills’ cereal developer.
The shift away from artificial dyes represents the latest chapter for food coloring in the U.S., which has had a rocky history. As recently as 1950, the Food and Drug Administration said children became sick after eating an orange Halloween candy that contained a dye. The agency eventually whittled down its list of approved color additives after finding several had caused “serious adverse effects.”