PR wars over food safety, labeling, and questionable ingredients have been raging as of late, and big brands have increasingly found themselves on the wrong side of standoffs involving concerned citizens armed with petitions, boycotts and Facebook pages. As we all know, the way these brands respond often determines whether such situations become opportunities for positive PR or full-blown damage control disasters.
Now it’s Kraft‘s turn.
Food blogger Vani Hari (AKA “Food Babe“), along with with Lisa Leake of 100daysofrealfood.com, recently filed a petition asking the company to remove potentially harmful dyes yellow 5 and yellow 6 from its childhood dinner staple Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. Though the petition has already garnered over 270,000 signatures, Hari decided to take her fight to the streets (literally) in an effort to earn more attention and support for her cause.
On Monday, Hari braved the cold and stood outside Chicago supermarket Jewel-Osco, handing out samples of the U.K. version of Kraft’s Mac & Cheese, which is known as Cheesey Pasta and does not contain the dyes in question. Though many shoppers walked right by her without taking notice, the local media picked up on the story and ran with it. Kraft may have missed the news coverage, but they certainly noticed Hari hand-delivering her petition to the company’s Chicago headquarters.
So far, Kraft’s only response has been this letter to “Mac & Cheese Lovers” posted on its website, which reads in part: “You’ve been clear — you love the great taste of your beloved Original Kraft Mac & Cheese just the way it is…And for those of you looking for Mac & Cheese with natural colors or no colors at all, we’ve got those options too.”
The letter also points out that the FDA has deemed the dyes in question safe, but those on Hari’s side point to the fact that the British government also recommended that food manufacturers remove such dyes from products due to evidence that “suggested a link between certain food colors and ADHD in children.”
Kraft’s response intrigues us — rather than trying to appease the people asking for change, the letter is addressed to those who are already on the company’s side. While the letter may set the minds of Mac & Cheese loyalists at ease, we doubt those concerned about potentially harmful ingredients will be swayed. Do you think this response is sufficient, or will Kraft eventually have to directly address its critics?