General Mills Takes Junk out of Kids’ Cereals

My dad used to give us Fruit Loops for dessert. And we loved them! I still remember the tantalizing artificial fruit smell. Would I give them to my kids today? No way! I’m too scared of food dyes and artificial flavors. Well, times are a-changin’. General Mills announced Monday that by 2017, they will no longer be using food dye or artificial flavors in their breakfast cereals.

This change in General Mills cereals means Trix will now come in earth tones, since chartreuse and light blue are hard to find in nature. The brown of Reeses Cocoa Puffs shouldn’t change too much. Lucky Charms are going to be hard for them to redo, but they sound enthusiastic and will surely figure out a way. Marshmallows should be fun whatever their color. I just hope the leprechaun doesn’t take offense.

This is good news and I’m happy to see another company following in Kraft’s remove the yellow dye from mac’n’cheese effort, but the fact of sugar cereal is still a bummer. Earth-toned Trix are still flavored puffs of sugar. As Dr. James Hambin writes in The Atlantic, “Sugar puffs are not ‘part of a complete breakfast’ any more than Skittles or toenails.” And eating sugary foods instead of real meals puts children at risk for obesity, diabetes, and hyperactivity.

This may be why people are shying away from buying cereal, and why food companies like General Mills are trying to make their sugar puffs more attractive. Focusing on what they can change, the artificial colors and flavors, Jim Murphy, president of the cereal division, says, “We’re simply listening to consumers and these ingredients are not what people are looking for in their cereal today,” True, but I’m also not looking to have my kids eat three teaspoons of sugar in one bowl of Trix.

Maybe one day I’ll do as my dad did and give the kids a bowl of sugary puffs, but only for dessert!

What do you think? Will this move affect your cereal buying choices?