Consumer activists cheered Tuesday, but some comfort food fans booed, after Kraft Foods Group said it will stop using artificial coloring in its iconic Kraft Macaroni and Cheese product.
From January next year, two kinds of yellow dye will no longer be added to the packaged dry pasta and processed cheese mix that is famous for its gooey yellow-orange look.
Instead, natural ingredients like paprika, annatto and turmeric will be used, said Kraft in a statement Monday that promised no change in how Mac and Cheese actually tastes.
"These recipe changes are the latest steps in the Kraft Mac and Cheese journey to delight consumers with on-trend updates to meet consumers' changing lifestyles and needs," it said.
Cheap and easy to make, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese -- known in Canada as Kraft Dinner -- has been part of the North American family diet since its introduction in 1937 amid the Great Depression.
Campaigners have long pressed Kraft to stop adding artificial coloring, amid fears of a link with hyperactivity in children.
"This is a crucial first step on removing an unnecessary but potentially harmful additive from the food supply," said North Carolina food blogger Vani Hari in an email to AFP.
Hari, who writes the Food Babe blog, was behind an online petition that drew more than 365,000 signatures urging Kraft to stop using fake coloring.
"Kraft's Macaroni and Cheese isn't a health food," added the Center for Science in the Public Interest, another critic of artificial coloring.
"But replacing its Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 with natural colorings is a step in the right direction," it said on its website.
On social media, however, diehard Mac and Cheese fans cried foul.
"Why would you want to change a great product like your Mac and Cheese to please some health nuts and ruin it for your loyal customers?" wrote one outraged American mother on Kraft's Facebook recipes page.
"Please don't change my Kraft Dinner! I am 52 years old and it's been the same great taste since my childhood!" added a Canadian consumer, also on Facebook.
Last month, Kraft and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics said they would end a controversial children's nutrition awareness initiative for a processed cheese product.
The food giant said it will remove the academy's "Kids Eat Right" logo from Kraft Singles, individually wrapped slices of a processed cheese product, after it was criticized as an endorsement of Kraft products.
The venture, announced by the academy earlier in March, was aimed at promoting better nutrition for youngsters.