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Common Sense: Macaroni and cheese can cause hyperactivity?

March 10, 2013

By Brent Davis

A staple of nearly every child's list of "Foods I'll Eat" is Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. The tasty meal has been part of the American landscape since 1937. The idea for the product came about during the Great Depression. A salesman in St. Louis attached bags of grated cheese to boxes of macaroni with a rubber band. It hit the marketplace in a time when the rationing of milk and dairy products was necessary during World War II. It didn't hurt that the box had a shelf life of 10 months. It was cheap to buy, easy to make and everyone loved that yellow cheesy sauce. Kraft Macaroni & Cheese became synonymous with comfort food.
However, it seems that yellow cheesy look is now under scrutiny.
Two mothers in North Carolina who write a food blog have petitioned Kraft Foods, asking that the company to stop artificially coloring the cheese mix. The bloggers claim that two of the dyes used to give the cheese sauce it's familiar color, yellow dye 5 and yellow dye 6, have been associated with hyperactivity in children, allergies, migraine headaches and more. The bloggers also say that the same version of our American classic is offer in the United Kingdom without these two dyes included. They say Kraft naturally color the version with paprika and beta carotene because of stricter rules regarding additives. They are asking Kraft to change the American version to this configuration.
According to their petition, the bloggers say there are other compelling reasons to change the formula. They maintain that artificial food dyes require a warning label in countries outside the U.S. and have been banned in countries like Norway and Austria. They also note that the dyes add no nutritional value to the foods we eat and are used for aesthetic purposes only.
The bloggers do not indicate at what levels of ingestion these food dyes create the adverse effects claimed in the petition.
Does it matter to you? Would you eat it anyway?
Claims of dangerous food items, even eggs, have created a climate of consumption confusion.
So what's an average person supposed to do? That's a question each individual must answer for themselves.
Certainly, it would be prudent to err on the safe side, but has Kraft Macaroni & Cheese become much a part of the day-to-day diet of our busy lifestyles that removing it would create a void that no other comfort food could fill.
At the time of this writing, 165,653 people had signed the digital petition. The bloggers are seeking 200,000.
It is hard to imagine a childhood without mac & cheese. There were times when my siblings and I wanted a batch, but there were no familiar blue and yellow boxes of this treat in the house. However, my Mom was creative. Macaroni noodles were always in stock in the Davis pantry. So was Velveeta, cheddar cheese and/or Kraft singles. With a dash of milk and any one or combination of alternative cheese products, ten minutes later we had our version of the treat.
Necessity is the mother of invention.

Brent Davis is editor of The Saline Courier. He can be reached at bdavis@bentoncourier.com.

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