From this week, none of Countdown’s in-store baked goods will contain artificial colours or flavours after a three-year project to eradicate nasties.
More than 60 products have been changed in a move Countdown says was sparked by Kiwis’ growing demand for more natural products and a desire to know what’s in their food.
Countdown’s nutritionist, Deb Sue, said customers will definitely notice some colour changes as natural colours are more subtle than their fake friends. However Countdown has undergone months of testing to ensure alternate natural ingredients don't sacrifice taste, overall appearance and shelf life.
“Kiwis have come to expect the bright vibrant colours of artificial dyes, so there will definitely be some noticeable visual differences due to the paler nature of natural colours,” said Deb Sue.
“A good example is the jam filling in our popular lamington logs and cream buns, which previously had a lurid pink filling which was clearly artificial. Our jam now is coloured by the fruit in the jam plus pigment found in carrots and colourful vegetables.”
Countdown has reformulated more than 60 percent of its range, with the rest of the range already being free of artificial ingredients, and is believed to be the only national bakery to bake without artificial flavours or colours.
Some further changes include:
Spiced apple filling (used in muffins and crumble cake) now only uses natural flavouring from cinnamon and New Zealand apples.
Lemon curd filling (used in muffins and crumble cake) is now both coloured and flavoured with natural lemon.
Sage and onion relish (used on a panini) now uses mustard and caramelised sugar to create a rich brown colour in the relish.
Other natural colour replacements include a darker cocoa powder, carmine, burnt sugar, blackcurrant juice, paprika and tumeric, and natural vanilla extract has replaced the artificial vanilla flavouring.
“We hear more and more concern from our customers about artificial flavours and colours. We’ve removed them from all of our packaged own brand products, and I’m really pleased to bring this thinking into our freshly baked goods too."
In 2017 Countdown set a number of targets around the reformulation of Countdown’s own products to reduce sugar and salt, and help Kiwis make healthier food choices. Currently 99 per cent of Countdown’s own brand range displays the Health Star Rating, and 53 per cent of these products have a Health Star Rating of more than 3.5 stars.