There’s no stopping the Food Babe.
Just one day after food blogger Vani Hari launched a petition calling for Kellogg and General Mills to drop a preservative from their cereals, she’s already getting a huge reaction. The petition has gained more than 30,000 signatures and General Mills has responded to indignant cereal shoppers on social media saying that the company is on the path to remove the chemical from its products.
Hari is calling for the removal of the Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) from cereals and packaging, where it is used in small amounts to protect flavor and freshness. BHT is currently approved by the FDA but has been criticized as unnecessary and potentially dangerous by groups such as the Environmental Working Group.
According to Hari, she chose BHT as a target for her campaign after noticing that in Europe, companies had replaced BHT with other, supposedly safer, alternatives.
“They’re American companies,” says Hari. “They should be doing that for [American customers]!”
In the past, Hari has mobilized followers to convince Chick-fil-A to cut corn syrup and Subway to discontinue its use of a chemical she called “the yoga mat ingredient.” After her proven success in making changes, the pressure is on for companies to respond quickly – even if they insist they aren’t doing anything wrong.
As Hari’s followers took to social media to confront General Mills and Kellogg, General Mills responded on Twitter saying that, in fact, the company had a plan in place to cut BHT from its products.
“This change is not for safety reasons, but because we think consumers will embrace it. We’ve never spoken with Vani Hari and she did not play any role in our decision,” General Mills said in a statement to Entrepreneur. “Our removal of BHT from cereals is well underway and has been for more than a year.”
Kellogg also apparently has plans to make changes.
“We are always listening to the needs of our consumers and know some people are looking for options without BHT,” said Kellogg Company spokesperson Kris Charles in a statement to Entrepreneur. “And so, we have already been actively testing a number of natural alternatives to ensure the same flavor and freshness.”
Of course, promises to change aren’t enough for Hari. Her next step in the plan: pressuring Kellogg and General Mills to release a timeline of when BHT will be cut from all products for good.