Monday, April 15, 2013

The War Against Macaroni and Cheese: Petition Asks Kraft to Remove Artificial Dyes (2013)

Based on a paper by: Abigail Frasier
Summary by: Abigail Frasier

   Everyone has heard of Kraft Foods Group, as a matter of fact about 98% of people in the United States have Kraft products in their household. Kraft was founded in 1903 in Chicago, Illinois by James Kraft. Kraft Foods Group has grown into a billion dollar company, grossing just about $18 billion just last year. Nine of Kraft's brands generated more than $500 million of the sales alone. Just recently in March of 2013, it came to the attention of 2 bloggers, Lisa Leake and Vani Hari, that in Kraft's original Macaroni and Cheese contains a harmful carcinogen named Yellow 5. Yellow 5 does not add flavor nor nutritional value to the product but it gives the macaroni and cheese a brighter color. Side effects of Yellow 5 are asthma, rashes, migraines, hyperactivity in children and even cancer. In Europe, products that contain Yellow 5 must have a warning label and it is even banned in Austria and Norway because of the harmful side effects. Kraft, in Europe, manufactures an alternative to the original Macaroni and Cheese called "Cheesey Pasta" because of the requirement of warning labels and that it is banned in the two countries. In the United States, products containing Yellow 5 do not need a warning label nor is it banned but Kraft does offer three different products that do not contain Yellow 5, 'organic', 'deluxe' and 'homestyle'. There is now a petition asking Kraft to start manufacturing the "Cheesey Pasta" in the United States.
   According to Individualism Theory, Kraft's decision was not unethical. The Individualist view is that everyone is given the right to their own personal interests. Individualist want to enlarge their freedom and profit and they also respect other people's interests as well. Kraft was maximizing their profit within the law because Yellow 5 is not illegal in the United States. Kraft was able to find a way to increase their profit meanwhile making the consumers happy by having products that do not contain the harsh chemical. Kraft thought that they would become more profitable by producing three alternatives of the original Macaroni and Cheese. Looking at the consumer's point of view with the Individualist perspective, Kraft was unethical because the consumer's are not offered the same product as the consumer's in Europe. The consumers want the same macaroni and cheese being offered in Europe that is exactly like the original Macaroni and Cheese but does not contain Yellow 5.
     The Utilitarian's view is to be happy. Kraft was ethical in this situation because the happiness of the consumers is their health. The company came up with alternatives so the consumers would not have any side effects from eating macaroni and cheese. Kraft wanted the consumers to be happy while eating their macaroni and cheese. The stakeholders in this situation is the Kraft Foods Group as a whole company and the consumers. The company wants to remain a trusted company and they do not want to lose their loyal consumers. Therefore, the company had to come up with an alternative or more pertaining to the situation. The consumers want to feed their family food that is not harmful and that is why they are wanting the "Cheesey Pasta" because it is exactly like the original Macaroni and Cheese except there are absolutely no added chemicals.
    With the Kantian Theory, people or a company should respect others. The Formula of Humanity is to not take advantage of one another. Kraft did respect the consumer's wishes for a product that did not contain this harsh artificial dye but they did not respect the consumer's wish for the "Cheesey Pasta". Kraft did not start producing the chemical-free products because it was the right thing to do. Instead, Kraft knew that consumers wanted a chemical-free product and Kraft knew that manufacturing more than one chemical-free product, they would be able to increase their sales. The Kantian Theory also states that one should act in Good Will. Clearly Kraft Foods Group was not trying to be good in this situation. Kraft was thinking about how they can make a bigger profit.
   Lastly, the four virtues in the Virtue Theory are courage, honesty, temperance and justice. Kraft Foods Group was ethical in three out of four of the virtues, courage, honesty and justice. The company was courageous in making alternative products that do not contain Yellow 5 even though the dye is not banned in the United States. They were honest because they knew that their macaroni and cheese contained Yellow 5 and they wanted to keep their customers so they had alternatives to keep these customers satisfied. Kraft was also in agreement with justice because Kraft provides quality products to all who buys their products. The company was not in agreement with temperance because they did not have an reasonable explanation to why they came up with three alternatives to the one original Macaroni and Cheese that had Yellow 5 instead of just manufacturing the "Cheesey Pasta" in the United States.
   This recent situation with Yellow 5 is an eye opener for everyone even if it is not banned in the United States. Perhaps this situation will raise awareness to the FDA to ban or have products that contain Yellow 5 provide a warning label for consumers. Kraft Foods Group's decision to provide alternative products of macaroni and cheese that do not contain this carcinogen was an ethical one. It was an ethical decision for the sake of the consumers and for the business. If Kraft continues to make the same ethical decisions the company will grow into an even bigger company than it already is.

These facts and analyses are based on an original research paper by Abigail Frasier, "The War Against Macaroni and Cheese: Petition Asks Kraft to Remove Artificial Dyes" (2013)

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