Mars Inc. to phase out synthetic dyes

By Sarah Tyrrell

On Friday it was announced that Mars, Inc. will be removing all artificial colors from its chocolate, gum, confection, food and drink businesses. These artificial colors will be phased out over the next few years in response to consumer demand for natural ingredients. Some of its more popular products include M&M’s, Skittles and Extra gum.

This is a similar commitment we are seeing across the board from big brands such as General Mills and Nestlé USA. In a consumer study in 2015 more than 80 percent of parents with children said they were more likely to purchase a food product with naturally sourced color than products with synthetic coloring. Seventy percent of these parents said they would go to the extent of paying a premium in order to avoid these synthetic colors.

On January 19, 2016 a petition was signed by a group of doctors and scientists from the Center for Science in the Public Interest calling on the FDA to ban the use of these synthetic dyes in food and beverages. There has been aggressive action taken in the European Union against these food dyes, and many of these companies are selling the same products in both the US and Europe with the European products having dye-free or naturally-sourced dyes.

Perhaps regulation on these synthetic dyes is in the future for the US. As of right now any changes in production or labeling seems to be in the hands of consumers, and mainly those who double as parents.


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