Kids to Kraft: Where's the Wheat?

In contrast to the more than $15 billion in direct marketing spent in the U.S. to exhort children to buy food and non-food products, children often don’t get very far with the companies when they start asking questions. Olympia, Washington teacher Michi Thacker assigned her elementary students to write food manufacturers to raise questions, such as where the macaroni comes from. Most larger companies like Kraft suddenly had little to say. Kraft told one student via email that “the information you are seeking is considered confidential.” Gatorade, Frito Lay, Campbell’s and Post had similar nonanswers. Nancy from Nancy’s Yogurt of Eugene, Oregon, on the other hand, responded personally to students with the names of the producing farms and the origins of ingredients. Rethinking Schools contains 13 articles about how children learn about food, including the costs of local and imported food, corporate food distribution networks, connecting food and heritage, and what an earthworm (in contrast to a PR firm) can teach you about eating right.


I love this article on Kraft Foods because I also have been calling them since February 2006 on an illegal and toxic ingredient in their Macaroni and Cheese.

Here is what happened. In February 2006 I attended a food activist conference at DePaul University in Chicago. At the conference I received a flier on a food ingredient I had never heard of before called Milk Protein Concentrate (MPC). The flier was titled "Is there "Krap" in your Kraft Singles?" The flier stated that instead of milk, Kraft puts MPC in their Kraft Singles which is a by-product of milk processing. MPC contains dried bacteria, radioactive isotopes, heavy metals, pesticides, dioxins and other dangerous residues and is not purchased locally but imported from places such as the Ukraine, India and New Zealand. Worse, MPC has never been approved by the FDA. (The flier can be found at

After the conference I called Kraft's consumer information line and was told that Milk Protein Concentrate is concentrated protein from milk. When I asked them to explain further they suggested I call corporate headquarters in Glenview, Illinois. Since they are north of Chicago I paid them a visit in person. I asked to speak to a nutritionist and the receptionist said she would call someone. While I waited I flipped through their annual report which showed healthy, good-looking people smoking cigarettes (Kraft and Phillip Morris are owned by the same company-Altria). A woman named Sabrina contacted me on the lobby phone and took my information. While we were talking a security guard was called out to watch me and then escorted me out of the building (FYI-I made absolutely no fuss, am clean cut, in my forties and the father of 2 young boys).

Sabrina and I have hence talked back and forth over the past months. I told her that the FDA says MPC is an illegal ingredient and she said Kraft abides by all FDA guidelines and in no way would they break FDA regulations. I called her back and told her I downloaded a Warning Letter from the FDA's website addressed to Kraft that I will summarize- the FDA has inspected 3 of Kraft's plants and have found that Kraft is using MPC in their food-this is an illegal substance that needs to be removed. Sabrina was not aware of this letter and I told her where to find it (just type in MPC on the FDA's website and you will get it). She said she would get back to me and I haven't received a call in a number of weeks. I have tried unsuccessfully to talk to other people in the organization especially a nutritionist and even the CEO but to no avail. The road always leads back to Sabrina who would rather not talk to me and called me back once but prefers I call her.

According to the flier I received-instead of removing MPC-Kraft instead changed the name of Kraft Singles from "Cheese Food" to "Cheese Product". At least the new name is closer to what it is-an "industrial product" instead of food.

Mark Reed

Mark, i think it's pretty cool to see what you did! To go there by yourself and trying to get information, if more people were like you the big companies would end up with no choice but to tell us the truth. If they sent that security guard, it's because they don't like people asking them questions and because they can still hide things because so few people are not afraid to try to change things.

Many food companies have big secrets. They are playing with our HEALTH, trying to make a few bucks, that is just horrible. GM food is really popular right now, it's cheaper, often taste more, but what about our health? Is it not worth paying a bit more to stay in good shape. Anyway, the money we win by buying cheaper food is lost with the new diseases we have to fight and we people getting sick. The good thing is that bloggers from around the world are starting to talk together about these problems and some websites warn people about all these dangers. An example, some ramen noodles website tells us that there is monosodium glutamate in the soup base, an ingredient that is banned in Europe. Hopefully people will open their eyes and start working together to change thing and to tell big companies that we don't want to eat chemical products anymore!