Kraft ditching preservatives and artificial dyes in Macaroni & Cheese

On Monday, Kraft announced that the original version of its Macaroni & Cheese dinner sold in the U.S. will no longer contain artificial preservatives of synthetic colors.

Starting January of 2016, that signature neon orange hue will come from natural ingredients like paprika, annatto and turmeric. There has been a huge shift away from processed foods in the U.S. and larger food producers are trying to follow their customers in that direction.

In March 2013, food activist Vani Hari, who blogs as the “Food Babe,” started a petition asking Kraft to remove dyes from its macaroni and cheese. The digital petition received more than 365,000 signatures.

Kraft already sells a preservative-free version of its popular noodle product called Kraft Mac & Cheese Boxed Shapes, which has no artificial flavors or synthetic coloring agents.

Kraft said that its other macaroni and cheese varieties sold in the U.S., such as Shapes Cups, Original Cups, Premium Flavors and Easy Mac will have no artificial flavors, preservatives or synthetic colors later next year.

The Canadian macaroni and cheese version, called Kraft Dinner Original, will also eliminate synthetic colors by the end of next year.

The company said that it has worked for some time to make the changes to the product, but wanted to ensure that customers would not notice a change in taste.

"We weren't ready to change the product until we were confident that Kraft Macaroni & Cheese tastes like Kraft Macaroni & Cheese," the company said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.