Dunkin’ Donuts Announces It Has Removed Artificial Dyes from Its Donuts

Dunkin' Donuts Hot Logo. (PRNewsFoto/Dunkin' Donuts)

Good news for those of you who want to avoid artificial dyes in your sweet treat. In a January 4, 2018 press release, Dunkin’ Donuts announced it was kicking off 2018 with the removal of artificial dyes from its donuts in the United States.

The company declared that donuts now sold at Dunkin’s restaurants nationwide are no longer being made using colors from artificial sources. Dunkin’ Donuts and sister brand Baskin-Robbins previously pledged to eliminate artificial dyes from all of its food and beverages in the U.S. by the end of 2018.

According to Tony Weisman, Chief Marketing Officer, Dunkin’ Donuts U.S., “Eliminating artificial dyes from our donuts is an incredible milestone moment for a fun brand whose products are synonymous with bright, colorful confections. After years of research and development, we are thrilled to be taking such a big step in providing guests with simpler ingredients while still delivering the delicious taste and vivid colors expected with our donuts.”

By the end of this year, Dunkin’ Donuts will remove artificial dyes across its menu, including donut icings, fillings and toppings, as well as frozen beverages, baked goods, breakfast sandwiches and coffee flavorings.

Weisman added that customers will be hard pressed to see the color difference in the new donuts. For example, he says the new Snow Flurries Donut features a frosted donut with wintry blue icing and special snowflake sprinkles, all without colors from artificial sources.

Baskin-Robbins will also remove synthetic dyes from its menu, including ice cream sold both at its restaurants and in quarts and pints at retail locations, as well as its syrups, sauces, sprinkles and beverages. The exceptions on both brands’ menus include select supplier-branded ingredients produced by other companies that are used as toppings, ice cream inclusions or decorative elements.

The consumer push back against corporate brands to use less artificial ingredients is propelling food manufacturers and restaurants to go more natural, but consumers have wised-up to tricky health marketing ploys.

So does this mean that Dunkin’s move to natural dyes is not nearly as good as it sounds? Not at all. It is just important to bear in mind when you are trying to make healthy food choices that labeling something natural still doesn’t mean it’s completely natural under current FDA regulations.

Under FDA regulations, “natural foods” are often assumed to be foods that are minimally processed and do not contain any hormones, antibiotics or artificial flavors. A color is deemed natural if its origin is vegetal, microbiological, animal or mineral.

Although many of us want to avoid artificial dyes, we still like colorful foods, especially during the holidays and on special occasions. After all, we eat with our eyes first. The conundrum for food scientists was to find natural dyes as alternatives to artificial dyes that remained vibrant, safe and fun. And they have made tremendous strides in producing natural dyes. So much so that and in 2013 natural color sales overtook artificial color sales for the first time ever.

And on that luscious note, why not join me in getting a bright blue donut. Reign well.

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