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Sweet PR Move: Nestlé Commits to Removing Artificial Flavors and Colors from All Its Chocolate Candy Products

Brand Becomes First Major U.S. Candy Manufacturer to Make This Commitment

Food-industry marketing and PR have shifted dramatically over the last few years as healthy eating and organic food have become en vogue—and many food companies have capitalized on that movement by doing overhauls on their own processes and ingredients. Candy maker Nestlé USA is attempting a similar move by announcing last week that it will be removing artificial flavors and FDA-certified colors, like Red 40 and Yellow 5, from all of its chocolate candy products. By the end of 2015, more than 250 products and 10 brands, including Butterfinger, Nestlé Crunch and Baby Ruth candy bars, will be free of artificial flavors and dyes. Products will begin appearing on store shelves by mid-2015, and will be identified by a “No Artificial Flavors or Colors” claim on the packaging.

“Our commitment to remove artificial flavors and certified colors in our chocolate candy brands is an important milestone,” said Doreen Ida, president of Nestlé USA Confections & Snacks, in a news release. “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 flavors and colors without affecting taste or increasing the price. We’re excited to be the first major U.S. candy manufacturer to make this commitment.”

According to Ida, Nestlé conducted research on several brands, and determined that U.S. consumers prefer candy brands they know and love to be free from artificial flavors and colors. In addition, findings from Nielsen’s 2014 Global Health & Wellness Survey show more than 60 percent of Americans say no artificial colors or flavors is important to their food purchase decisions.

Nestlé says it will replace the artificial flavors and colors with ingredients from natural sources—for example, in the crispy Butterfinger center, annatto, which comes from the seeds found in the fruit from the achiote tree, will replace Red 40 and Yellow 5. In Crunch, natural vanilla flavor will replace artificial vanillin.

“We never compromise on taste. When making these changes to more than 75 recipes, maintaining the great taste and appearance consumers expect from the chocolate brands they know and love is our #1 priority,” said Leslie Mohr, nutrition, health and wellness manager at Nestlé Confections & Snacks, in the release. “We conducted consumer testing to ensure the new recipe delivers on our high standards for taste and appearance.”

According to Mohr, this change affects Nestlé’s current portfolio of chocolate brands including Nestlé Crunch, Butterfinger, Baby Ruth, Skinny Cow, Raisinets, Goobers, Sno Caps, 100 Grand, Oh Henry and Chunky. Going forward, all newly launched chocolate and non-chocolate candy products (gummies, sours, etc.) introduced by Nestlé will be made without artificial flavors or colors. Additionally, Nestlé is actively pursuing the removal of caramel coloring from its chocolate products. Caramel coloring is an exempt-from-certification color additive, which is used in only nine of the more than 250 chocolate products.

Richard Carufel

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