Nestle USA strips artificial bits from chocolate candy

Cailler Nestle chocolate factory in Switzerland is a one-stop candy shop. -- PHOTO: UMA SHANKARI
Cailler Nestle chocolate factory in Switzerland is a one-stop candy shop. -- PHOTO: UMA SHANKARI

WASHINGTON (AFP) - No more artificial flavours and colors in Butterfinger, Babe Ruth or any Nestle chocolate candies in the United States, because Americans want them gone, the Swiss food giant said Tuesday.

Nestle USA pledged to remove artificial flavors and government-certified colours from all its more than 250 products by the end of the year.

"We're excited to be the first major US candy manufacturer to make this commitment," said Ms Doreen Ida, president of Nestle USA Confections & Snacks.

The unit of the world's leading food company said its customer research on brands like Butterfinger showed US consumers prefer candy that is free of artificial flavors and colors.

The company also cited Nielsen's 2014 Global Health & Wellness Survey, which found more than an 60 per cent of Americans said the absence of artificial colors or flavours was important to their food purchase decisions.

Nestle USA said it would replace the artificial flavours, and colours certified as safe by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with ingredients from natural sources.

For example, annato from the seed of the fruit from the achiote tree will replace Red 40 and Yellow 5 in Butterfinger's crunchy center. Natural vanilla flavour will replace artificial vanillin in Crunch.

"We know that candy consumers are interested in broader food trends around fewer artificial ingredients. As we thought about what this means for our candy brands, our first step has been to remove artificial flavours and colours without affecting taste or increasing the price." The revamped products will begin appearing on store shelves by mid-2015, labelled "No Artificial Flavours or Colours", the company said.

And all newly launched chocolate and non-chocolate candy products marketed by Nestle USA will be made without artificial flavours or colours, it pledged.

The company also said it is working on removing caramel colouring, used in nine of its chocolate products.

Caramel colouring, a common food colouring, is under scrutiny by consumer activists who say it may cause cancer.

According to the FDA website, the agency is reviewing data on a chemical compound in caramel colouring to make sure that its use in food remained safe.