Wal-Mart UK Subsidiary to Remove Artificial Ingredients from Private Label Products

LONDON -- Asda, a leading U.K. retailer owned by Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart, said Friday it will be the first supermarket in Britain to commit to the removal of all artificial colors and flavors from its own label food and soft drinks products.

Asda's so-called "no nasties" guarantee means that by the end of this year, none of the supermarket's 9,000 own label food and soft drinks will contain any artificial colors or flavors, aspartame, hydrogenated fat, or flavor enhancers, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG). The retailer said it is investing more than $59.235 million to the cause.

All Asda's private label product ranges will also meet or exceed the Food Standard Agency's salt targets, more than two years ahead of the 2010 deadline, following the removal of 156 tonnes of salt this year alone, the retailer said. (Tonne is the British term for a metric ton.)

Work is well underway, and two of the supermarket's product lines -- its kids' range, Great Stuff, and healthy eating range Good For You -- already deliver the "no nasties" guarantee and have messages on their packaging communicating this to customers.

The removal of artificial colors (including azo dyes), such as Carmine (E120), Erythrosine (E127), Quinoline (E104), and Sulphite Ammonia Caramel (E150d), will be replaced with natural colors and fruit and vegetable extracts where necessary. In many cases, however, artificial colors will simply be removed and not replaced, according to Asda.

Artificial flavors will, where necessary, be replaced with flavors from natural sources. For example, vanilla, which is sourced naturally, will replace the artificially produced Vanillin that's commonly used in chocolate products.

Aspartame is being replaced with Sucralose, a sweetener made from sugar that tastes like sugar.

The retailer said it's confident that in the vast majority of cases, taste will not be sacrificed.
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