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Blue Smarties are back, thanks to natural color additive

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YORK, United Kingdom An all-natural coloring derived from seaweed has put blue Smarties back on the shelves following their removal two years ago in response to concerns over artificial additives.

Nestle Rowntree stopped producing blue Smarties when it promised to remove all artificial colorings from the confectionery amid concerns that they are linked to hyperactivity and may pose other health risks. The blue Smartie was replaced by a white one, while a suitable natural alternative was found to the coloring Brilliant Blue (E133).

“There were a lot of disappointed consumers when blue Smarties were taken out of the range but I am delighted to announce that they are back,” said Graham Walker, Nestle Rowntree UK Trade Communications Manager.

After an extended period of development, Nestle now appears to have found the solution in spirulina, which is produced from two species of cyanobacteria (blue-green lake algae). It is commonly used as a dietary supplement as it contains unusually high levels of protein, between 55 and 77 percent by dry weight. It also is rich in essential fatty acids, B vitamins, vitamin C, D and E, and contains potassium and other minerals.

It is not clear if the blue Smarties will maintain any of Spirulina’s health benefits.

A study had concluded that cocktails of food colourings commonly used in confectionery and beverages, and sodium benzoate, can aggravate hyperactivity in children. However, Brilliant Blue was not included in this. Manufacturers have been responding to consumer demand to reduce artificial additives on the back of health concerns and a growing trend to choose natural and organic.

Mintel’s Global New Products Database found that more than 1,000 new food products claiming to be additive- and preservative-free were launched in the United Kingdom last year, according to Mintel, representing almost a quarter of all launches and nearly three times as many as any other European country. 

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