In a major indication of the pressure large food processors are receiving from consumers looking for healthier food choice, General Mills Inc, maker of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Cheerios cereals, announced on Monday that it would stop using artificial flavors and colors in nearly all of its cereals.
The processed foods maker said it plans to have 90 percent of its cereals artificial flavor and color free by 2016, up from approximately 60 percent today.
The company will begin on the notoriously unhealthy Trix and Reese’s Puffs cereals, using ingredients such as fruit and vegetable juices, cocoa, natural vanilla and peanut butter flavors, with new versions hitting stores this winter.
U.S. restaurant chains and food companies are under significant pressure to remove synthetic ingredients from their products amid growing awareness that such ingredients cause health problems.
Kraft Foods Group announced in April that it was removing synthetic colors and preservatives from its popular Kraft Dinner products.
Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Subway and Nestle USA have all made similar moves as consumer dollars shift to healthier products.
Yet the trend may still not be in General Mills’ favor, as cereals like Trix and Reese’s Puffs are still nutritionally awful, containing immense amounts of sugar and virtually no nutrients whatsoever. Nutrition experts are now recommending to avoid the so-called ‘inner aisles’ of the grocery store, as virtually all canned and packaged goods, accounting for nearly all of General Mills’ revenue, are loaded with chemicals and purged of nutrients, leading to long term health consequences for those who eat them regularly.