Kraft Mac and Cheese: What’s in it?

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese used to be a staple in our house. I loved it, my kids and husband loved it and I have no idea why. It is super processed. Open the box with the package of mix to make the cheese “sauce” and you’ll wonder what is wrong with this picture. Cheese is supposed to be a solid, not a powder! Anyways, tasty as it is, I decided to take a look at the ingredients and see what all the buzz was about.

List of Ingredients (in the sauce):

  • Milk
  • Milkfat
  • Cheese culture
  • Salt
  • Sodium Tripolyphosphate
  • Sodium Phosphate
  • Calcium Phosphate
  • Yellow 5
  • Yellow 6
  • Citric Acid
  • Lactic Acid
  • Enzymes

I did some research on the list of ingredients and they were so-so. I’m not sure about the quality of whey, milk protein concentrate, milk, milkfat, and cheese culture Kraft is using, but that is not what I want to focus on.

Here is the bad part of Kraft Mac and Cheese, of course I’m not including the stick of butter you have to put in it to actually make the product; it is the Yellow 5 . I am only recently aware of the power of dyes in foods, and I am shocked that a little coloring can do as much as it does! Here’s the break down (taken from

Yellow 5:

Yellow 5 is also known as tartrazine or E102. Yellow 5 is widely used in the making of potato chips, jams, candy, drinks and even pet food. It is also added to shampoo and other cosmetic products, as well as vitamins and certain medications. Yellow 5 is banned in Austria and Norway, and other European countries have issued warnings about their possible side effects. It is still freely and extensively used in the US, however.


Tartrazine can cause a variety of allergic reactions that vary from mild itching and skin rashes to serious allergy-like hypersensitivity. People who are allergic to aspirin have the strongest responses to Yellow 5. An early European study, published in 1998, showed that people who are allergic to aspirin are more likely to experience adverse reactions to yellow 5. This can include asthma attacks and bronchoconstriction or difficulty breathing.


Yellow 5 seems to cause hyperactivity in some children. The Food Standards Agency, FSA, which is UK’s equivalent to the FDA, issued a warning in 2008 about certain food colorings. The warning said that certain colorings, including tartrazine, can cause behavioral changes in children that included loss of concentration and impulsive, hard-to-control activity. The recommendation is to avoid or limit consumption of products that contain yellow 5. If a child develops hyperactive behavior, try eliminating this coloring from the diet and pay attention to the changes that follow.

Other Risks

Yellow 5 has been linked to a number of health problems, including blurred vision, migraines, fatigue and anxiety. It might also cause chromosomal damage, although this hasn’t been properly studied or documented

WHOA! Crazy, some little coloring can do this much! We have eliminated dyes in our house, not on purpose or intentionally, but bananas already come in a natural yellow color, and so do mangos. 😉 No need for dyes here!

Here is some more information on dyes:

CNN: Group urges band of 3 common dyes

CSPI Urges FDA to Ban Artificial Food dyes

FDA Probes Link Between Food dyes, Kids behavior