After an online petition calling for the action drew more than 348,000 signatures, Kraft has reportedly pledged to remove two artificial yellow food dyes from its kid-friendly macaroni and cheese products and begin using paprika instead. The change will affect the company’s Halloween, winter shapes and SpongeBob Squarepants product varieties, but not the regular elbow-shaped macaroni and cheese with “original flavor.” The online petition, initiated by Vani Hari of and posted by this past spring, asserted that artificial food dyes known as Yellow No. 5 and Yellow No. 6 are banned in Norway and Austria and are being phased out in the U.K., are made in a lab from petroleum-derived products, require warning labels in other countries, are contaminated with known carcinogens, and have been linked to long-term health problems. Their additional charge that the artificial dyes can cause hyperactivity in children has been underscored through studies showing a link between consumption of artificial food dyes and hyperactivity in children. Kraft officials said the new product recipes were not a response to the petition but a company effort to develop healthier products. Triona Schmelter, the company’s vice president of marketing for meals, said that the new recipes will include whole grains and reduced sodium and saturated fat. “We’ll continue to make improvement where we can,” Schmelter said. The newly formulated products are to begin shipping in early 2014. is now posting another online petition to ban artificial dyes in M&M candies, which has reportedly attracted more than 100,000 signatures. While manufacturers have substituted some plant-based dyes for artificial ones, the latter are considered superior on the basis of cost, stability and brighter colors.