March 1/London/Daily Mail-- Nestlé has become the first major confectioner to remove artificial colors, flavors and preservatives from its entire range.

The company, which is behind brands including KitKat, Smarties and Quality Street, has changed the recipe of 79 products to remove suspect chemicals.

Nestlé’s Crunch bar is the last of the company’s products to have the chemicals removed as part of a program that dates back six years.

In total, more than 80 ingredients have been replaced with alternatives, mostly from natural sources such as carrot, hibiscus, radish, safflower and lemon.

Other companies are also racing to drop artificial additives from products, particularly those targeted at children.

The Daily Mail first highlighted the use of suspect colors in products such as Smarties in 2005. It launched the “Ban the Additives” campaign in 2007, following research which found that normal healthy children became hyperactive when fed a cocktail of additives commonly used in sweets, cakes, fizzy drinks and some medicines.

The colors involved were tartrazine (E102); quinoline yellow (E104); sunset yellow (E110); carmoisine (E122); ponceau 4R (E124); and allura red (E129).

Subsequently, the Food Standards Agency announced a voluntary code calling on all food manufacturers to stop using these chemicals.

However, Nestlé has gone further and removed all artificial additives from its range. The changes meant that blue Smarties disappeared for a time until a natural coloring could be found.

The managing director of Nestlé Confectionery U.K., David Rennie, said, “This is a significant milestone. Nestlé is proud to be the only major confectionery company in the U.K. to announce it is 100% free of artificial preservatives, flavors or colors across the entire portfolio.

“To achieve this, Nestlé Confectionery and our suppliers have worked very hard ensuring we don’t compromise and we maintain the same quality and taste of all our brands.”

The firm’s research found that three quarters (74%) of consumers buying confectionery now look for natural products, which includes the need to be free from artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.

 From the March 2, 2012, Prepared Foods' Daily News.