Artificial colors and flavors in food produced by General Mills will soon be history, as the company announced that its breakfast cereals will be comprised solely of fruit and vegetable derivatives. Later this year, Coco Puffs and Reese’s Puffs will be the first to go “natural,” with other products to follow by 2017. According to Jim Murphy, president of the cereal division of General Mills, the change is prompted by a trend driven by consumer demand for food to be as real as possible. Murphy adds that the company is looking to “remove barriers that prevent adults and children from enjoying our cereals.” Following the national ban on trans fat issued by the Food and Drug Administration last week, this move is the latest in the trend of big brands eliminating harmful additives. With Chipotle reworking their tortillas to contain fewer ingredients, 7-Eleven switching to vegan mayonnaise for its prepared sandwiches, and Subway serving vegan options at more than 1,000 locations, mainstream brands are recognizing Americans’ shift toward healthy eating. Kelly O’Keefe, brand management professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University, says moves such as these are necessary because “if companies don’t change, they will fade into obscurity”—a truth demonstrated by the closing of 700 McDonald’s nationwide.
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