Jellybeans are about as far from a healthy snack as you can get, but we're happy about this news: Jelly Belly is experimenting with natural colors made from spirulina to replace some of its artificial colors.
The news comes after the company's recent reformulation of five of its major lines to comply with EU regulations on artificial colors–ingredients Naturally Savvy recommends avoiding at all costs (they're listed on our Scary Seven list for good reason).
ConfectionaryNews reports that Sharon Duncan, vice president, international business at Jelly Belly says the company has always looked to "natural colors and flavors" first, but that it hasn't always been easy to find them. "It's been the blues and greens, " Duncan said. "Those have been the hard ones. We've used some natural colors that just really impact the taste. But now with the spirulina, we're starting to experiment with that. I think we can get some greens and blues that are acceptable to us."
Spirulina, a blue-green algae revered by health food enthusiasts for its antioxidants and nutritional properties, was approved by the FDA as a natural alternative to the artificial colors FD&C Blue #1, after a petition by the confectionary company Mars.
While Jelly Belly is looking at the potential with spirulina, Duncan told ConfectionaryNews the company has no plans to avoid artificial colors that have been linked to hyperactivity in children. "[W]e've looked at all those studies and there are a lot of holes in many of them," said Duncan. But the company does plan to use as many natural colors and flavors as possible-but that's mostly due to the stringent regulations in the EU, which now bans certain artificial colors linked to behavioral issues in children.
Read more about artificial colors and children
Brands like Surf Sweets exist as healthy and delicious alternatives to jellybeans made with artificial colors and flavors, high fructose corn syrup and other unhealthy ingredients.