START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good

More U.S. Shoppers Demand Natural Food Flavors & Colors

More U.S. Shoppers Demand Natural Food Flavors & Colors

Artificial flavors and colors are becoming less acceptable to American consumers. Nearly one quarter of U.S. shoppers reported checking food labels in 2013 in order to avoid buying products containing artificial additives — a 15 percent increase from 2012. Global sales of natural food colourings also surpassed those of synthetic colours for the first time in 2011, which shows that people are paying closer attention to what’s in their food. As a result, there is greater pressure on the food industry to come up with natural alternatives.

For a long time, there has been a divide between the United States and Europe on what additives should be allowed in food. Several months ago, I wrote a post called “American kids get artificial food dyes, British kids get all-natural dyes,” about big, mainstream food companies that make the same products differently, depending on where they will be sold. This was because, until recently, the U.S. market hasn’t demanded the same natural standards as the European market does.

An article called “The New Naturals,” posted by the Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), explains the EU’s precise standards for what constitutes a ‘natural’ food additive. First, the flavour must already exist in nature, such as vanilla, and not be created. Second, its raw material must be natural, not a synthetic chemical. Third, obtaining the natural flavour must be a natural process, such as fermentation or nonchemical extraction.

American consumers finally seem to be coming around, which is wonderful. “Food colourings is one of the areas where the trend for natural varieties at the expense of artificial and synthetic ones is most pronounced,” Jonathan Thomas, principal market analyst at Leatherhead Food Research, told C&EN. Even Mars, the maker of M&Ms, has just received FDA approval to start using spirulina extract from cyanobacteria to colour its blue candies, after nearly two decades of synthetic blue dye.

While the transition to natural additives is a positive one, there’s a bigger issue at hand than the question of whether or not additives are healthy. The real problem lies with the processed foods that contain these flavours and colours, most of which should be left on the supermarket shelf, not brought home to eat. Children’s snacks, in particular, are loaded with seemingly kid-friendly colours and flavours, and yet those are terribly unhealthy products for kids to eat, natural additives notwithstanding. The best solution is to eat a rainbow of fresh produce that occurs entirely in nature, in the skins and peels of real food, rather than concerning oneself with anything processed.

Article by Katherine Martinko

Photo: CC BY 2.0 bencrowe



13 Scary Food Additives to Avoid

10 Reasons to Avoid Artificial Food Coloring

Read more: Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Family, Food, General Health, Health, Smart Shopping

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love


Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, and, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.


+ add your own
10:58AM PST on Feb 26, 2014

It is very easy to color foods with all natural colors. I use Turmeric for various yellow and yellow orange colors, Tomato Paste for Pinks, Oranges, and Reds, Spinach leaf or two for greens, etc. Too often people forget that we can apply enough to get color without changing the taste of the foods or icings we color.

4:08AM PST on Feb 24, 2014

No more additives, please

3:55AM PST on Feb 24, 2014

Makes me wonder about Canadian stats..

1:27AM PST on Feb 24, 2014


8:43PM PST on Feb 23, 2014


10:07PM PST on Feb 22, 2014

color me blue if they continue to add the color additives. Thanks, good information!

7:45PM PST on Feb 22, 2014

The only colors I want to see, are the colors in the produce isles...

4:37PM PST on Feb 22, 2014

I would prefer healthy foods that are bright in color -- a nice bright orange orange, a yellow or red apple, a purple plum, etc.

2:41PM PST on Feb 22, 2014


2:39PM PST on Feb 22, 2014

Thank you.

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

You can grow your own cilantro in many parts of the US rather easily.

It isn't easy but necessary. I eat too much "probably" unhealthy yogurt and not sure how the cows a…

Delightful story, amazing how different species can be so attuned to other species in distress!! If …

I try to do these things but can't say I accomplish them all every day.


Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.