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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Kraft Singles Get Very Slightly Less Horrid

Posted By on Thu, Feb 13, 2014 at 8:00 AM

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The enduring image of Kraft Singles in my mind comes from the Simpsons episode where Homer inadvertently thwarts Mr. Burns and Smithers from burglarizing his home by sleepwalking into the kitchen for "Mmmmm...64 slices of American cheese." It takes him all night to unwrap and eat them individually, by which time the burglars' suction pads lose their grip and they nonchalantly drop off the ceiling to bid him a good day.

See Also: Here Comes the FDA with New Nutritional Labels

The McRib Might Be Even Grosser Than You Thought

One detail Homer got wrong is that Kraft is legally prohibited from labeling its goods as cheese. It's actually a "cheese product." It's about to become incrementally cheesier (in a good way) now that Kraft has vowed to replace anti-molding agent sorbic acid with natamycin in some of its formulations. Citing growing consumer awareness of what's in our food, Kraft's pairing this formula adjustment with an ad campaign that features pastoral landscapes and plays up the fact that cheese, coming from milk, is "natural." Cynics might quibble, but the change shows that Big Food is capable of changing for the better.

Speaking of the word natural, possibly the most content-free term in the entire food universe, it's has gotten even more attention lately. As it is, the FDA doesn't actually spell out a definition. It merely forbids anything with artificial flavors, synthetic ingredients or added color from qualifying. (Growth hormone? Totally natural.) Vacuous though the word may be, even corporate food giants like Pepsi have been quietly removing it from Frito-Lay Chips. Either the ploy no longer works, or consumers have become savvier about what they eat, or both.

Quite a lot of ground remains until the U.S. food supply is healthful and sustainable, and the noshing public's enduring fear of "chemicals" shows that many people remain scientifically illiterate. But like Chick Fil-A phasing out hormones in chicken, it's a step in the right direction.

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Pete Kane

Pete Kane

Pete Kane is a total gaylord who is trying to get to every national park before age 40


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