Networks Take a Bite out of Mac and Cheese

Two food bloggers have launched an attack against Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, referring to an outdated study, and ABC and NBC have been quick to rush to their aid.

ABC’s “Good Morning America” and NBC’s “Nightly News” both ran stories promoting the crusade. The bloggers claim Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 food dyes used in Kraft Macaroni and Cheese can lead to hyperactivity and other health problems in children. They are petitioning Kraft to stop using the dyes in their products.

Both dyes have been approved by the FDA, though they have been banned in the small nations of Norway and Austria.

ABC’s Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Besser admitted on “Good Morning America” that “the studies that have looked at this are not very strong. There’s nothing that I see that raises a real concern about these dyes.” However, his response took up only 6 seconds of a 2 minute and 37 second promotion of the bloggers’ crusade against Kraft.

“Good Morning America” also included a 10-second mention of a response from Kraft which said that the company only uses “colors that are approved and deemed safe for food use by the Food and Drug Administration.

NBC’s Brian Williams began “Nightly News” coverage of the petition by noting that the orange color given to macaroni and cheese by the food dyes was “a color normally worn by road crews.”

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) study cited by the bloggers as evidence for health problems caused by the dyes has come up in the news before, and been dismissed by experts. In June of 2008, CBS “Evening News” and ABC “World News” both promoted the CSPI study.

CSPI is a left-wing group which specializes in extreme anti-food agenda and scary warnings, and has a long history of calling for regulation. In fact, CSPI has warned that practically every kind of food is dangerous including water, milk, coffee, bread, eggs, sugar, salt and many others in addition to pushing a pro-regulation and taxation agenda. CSPI also promotes taxes on what it considers “unhealthy” foods in order to subsidize fruits and vegetables.

 “The idea these food additives could cause hyperactivity has been around since the 1970s,” Business and Media Institute advisor, and President of the American Council on Science and Health, Elizabeth Whelan told BMI in 2008, after the network promotion of the CSPI study. “The Food & Drug Administration still has on their website that there’s no evidence to suggest that these trace colors are posing behavioral or any other problems.”

According to ABC, Kraft makes 14 macaroni and cheese products without the dye.

The bloggers, Lisa Leake of “100 Days of Real Food” and Vani Hari of “Food Babe,” say that they used Kraft Mac and Cheese to their children, before they became aware of the dangers in Yellow food dye.

Besides “Good Morning America” and “Nightly News,” the bloggers’ petition has been promoted by the websites of all three networks, as well as by USA Today and The Huffington Post.

This isn’t the first time the networks have attacked the food industry. ABC’s crusade against Lean Finely Textured Beef, which they dubbed “pink slime,” led to the loss of 700 jobs and $500 million in economic damage, according to a $1.2 billion lawsuit against ABC filed by Beef Products Inc.

Mike Ciandella
Mike Ciandella
Mike Ciandella is a staff writer for the Media Research Center's Business & Media Institute.