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Kraft Mac & Cheese will no longer fluoresce neon orange

Kraft Macaroni and CheeseThe end of an era—Kraft has announced that it will be removing synthetic colors and artificial preservatives from their classic macaroni and cheese. While Kraft had already eliminated artificial flavors from its main variety, Easy Mac will be seeing the removal of that ingredient in addition to the purging of artificial preservatives. When it comes to coloring, Yellow 5 (also known as tartrazine) and Yellow 6 are nearly ubiquitous in Kraft’s famed radioactive-yellow macaroni and cheese product line. Come January 2016, these wholesome ingredients will be removed from all U.S. varieties of Kraft’s macaroni and cheese products. Not to leave the macaroni too pale, Kraft will be replacing the fake tan with paprika, annatto, and turmeric for coloring. Welcome to a whole new America.

Kraft’s decision is consistent with the trend of classic American food brands trying to meet consumer desires by simplifying ingredients and making food healthier—without impacting the taste. At least, that’s the goal. Often the food is just marginally healthier, or makes you feel a little less uncomfortable when you read the ingredient list. Kraft’s Capri Sun replaced high fructose corn syrup with real sugar, which is still a scientifically contentious topic. The reason being refined white sugar is still pretty bad for your health, and going from something that might be a little worse for you to something that’s still bad for you isn’t really something to feel good about.

Kraft mac and cheese ingredients listKraft’s announcement feels better, but similar; the macaroni will still be missing real semolina or durum wheat. “Whole foods” are just hippie words, obviously. When it comes to price, “Kraft declined to say whether consumers would see prices change when the updated versions are released. It noted that the suggested retail price for ‘shapes’ products did not rise when those products dropped artificial preservatives and synthetic colors.” 

More promising have been entirely new product lines by big food names which have whole grains, low amounts of processed sugar, real ingredients, and real cheese. Annie’s Mac & Cheese, which is known for having fewer-than-10 ingredients—some of which are organic—was purchased back in 2014 by General Mills for $820 million. Heinz, which is planning to buy Kraft, announced a new yellow mustard with “100% natural” ingredients and stone-ground mustard seeds. Maybe the USDA will start giving mustard ‘Fancy’ grades in light of these developments.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Tweets about the Kraft and Heinz Merger

Not to worry though—Kraft won’t be changing all of its classic products. Kraft Singles—Kraft’s ‘Prepared Cheese Product’—will be getting a nutritional seal with no ingredient adjustments. ‘Merica, y’all.