This year has already seen huge changes for the better in the chocolate industry. Last month we reported on Nestle USA’s pledge to stop the use all artificial colors and flavors in their products to better meet consumer demands. Now, on the heels of that announcement, Hershey’s has announced that they too will be making some big changes to their products.
The biggest of these changes is that the company’s two most iconic products, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate candy bar and Hershey’s Kisses, will be GMO-free by the end of 2015. The company has also pledged to move toward using ‘simple, easy-to-understand ingredients,’ and to be more transparent about their products’ ingredients and sourcing practices.
Specific changes to Hershey’s products are that the company will trade GM beet sugar for cane sugar and switch to a non-GMO soy lecithin. It will also remove a synthetic emulsifier called PGPR, switch from artificial vanillin to natural vanilla, and stop using milks from cows that have been treated with the growth hormone rBST.
In the company’s media release, Hershey’s President and Chief Executive Officer, John P. Bilbrey, said:
“We all want and deserve to know what’s in our food. Hershey takes pride in listening to our consumers and customers and understanding what they need. We will continue to make our great-tasting, high-quality iconic brands that people know and love. We also will share more information about what goes into our products in ways that are easy to understand and access.”
Hershey’s website contains more information about the encouraging direction the company intends to head in, stating that they are looking to, “formulate new products and transition existing products to deliver on no artificial flavors, no synthetic colors, no high-fructose corn syrup and to be gluten free.”
The decision was likely a result of consumer pressure, specifically from the group ‘GMO Inside,’ which is dedicated to helping all Americans know what is in their food and to, “removing GMOs and toxins from our food supply.”
The group began calling on consumers to put pressure on Hershey to make its products without GMOs in February 2013, and now, 2 years later, the company has responded. The move follows similar steps by other big food companies including General Mills, Unilever, and Post Foods, who all offer non-GMO options.
GMO Inside is now asking Hershey to take a step further, and obtain independent, third-party non-GMO certification of its ingredients, but Hershey’s has not yet responded as to whether or not they will do this.
We still don’t recommend running out to stock your shelves with Hershey’s bars, as the products are still undoubtedly junk food. However, the announcement is still an important victory for consumers – whose voices are starting to be heard loud and clear.
We hope more companies will follow suit in making their products healthier and more natural, and of course, in saying NO to GMOs.
-The Alternative Daily