Some of America's most classic guilty pleasures — like the Baby Ruth and the Butterfinger — are about to be a little less guilt-inducing.
Nestle USA announced on Tuesday that it is removing artificial flavors and FDA-certified colorings from all of its chocolate candy products by the end of 2015.
This decision means that they will have to reformulate about 75 recipes for their 250 products. So, for example, in order to get that orange hue at the center of a Butterfinger, which is normally created by combining Yellow 5 and Red 40, Nestle will instead use annatto, which comes from the seeds found in the fruit from the achiote tree. And natural vanilla flavor will replace artificial vanillin in the Crunch bar.
But how will the changes affect the taste of our favorite chocolatey treats? According to Leslie Mohr, the nutrition, health and wellness manager for Nestle Confections & Snacks, they conducted consumer testing to ensure the new recipes delivered the same taste and appearance. "We never compromise on taste," she said.
Nestle points to its own brand research, as well as Nielsen's 2014 Global Health and Wellness Survey, which revealed that Americans are increasingly more likely to consider the use of artificial colors or flavors a major decision factor when making food purchases.
Past research suggests that artificial food dyes can contribute to hyperactivity in children. While the long-term safety of these products is still up for debate, it's probably a good idea to avoid chemical additives in general, as we clearly don't know enough about their effects.
Nestle seems to be erring on the side of caution, too, because even though caramel coloring is an exempt-from-certification color additive, they're still working on removing it from its chocolate products.
Does this mean that chocolate bars are now — wait for it — healthy? Well, I wouldn't go that far. They've still got a ton of corn syrup and sugar, but at least you know that giving into that intense late-night craving once in a while isn't quite as bad for you.
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