Street's not responding to annatto petition, yet

The following letter was sent to the CEO of Unilever Australia New Zealand on 9 March 2016:


Dear Mr Stiff

You may not be aware that a petition has been running since August 2015 asking Streets to replace the yellow annatto 160b colouring in all Streets ice cream variations with a safer natural colour beta carotene 160a.

Without us attempting to reach media with this petition, nearly 6,000 people have already signed. The text of the petition is at Attachment A and online at 

I am drawing this to your personal attention because your Customer Relation department have once provided us with a very corporate brushoff, and then with the comment that there is “nothing more that we can say”.

What if 6,000 people wrote to you and said they didn't like the flavour of Streets icecream? You would change your formulation in a flash.

But this is far more serious. Nearly 6,000 people have taken the trouble to tell you how badly they are affected by a totally unnecessary harmful natural colour when a simple safe alternative exists. See the range of reactions in Attachment B.

Streets competitors have already changed recently:

•       Parmalat Australia Ltd removed Annatto 160b from their Vaalia yoghurt
•       Sanitarium Australia removed Annatto 160b from their Vanilla So Good Vanilla Bliss
•       A2 Australia manufactures their vanilla ice cream using Beta Carotene 160a, a safe alternative

We are not making this up. Mikkelsen et al 1978 talked about allergic reactions ("natural food colours may induce hypersensitivity reactions as frequent as synthetic dyes"), Drs Loblay and Swain at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital first drew attention to food intolerance problems with annatto 160b in 1996 and even the Commonwealth Department of Health in their National Healthy School Canteens acknowledge (p45) that annatto is among the additives "most likely to be a problem" (references below).

I can tell you as a food technologist that there is no technical or even cost reason not to make the switch.

I would appreciate your personal attention to this issue.


Howard Dengate BSc PhD

Here is the response from his Executive Assistant 24th March:

Dear Mr Dengate,

Thank you for your email (and letter which we received in the mail). I passed both on, and I understand that our CEC team have been in contact and responded to your questions.

All the best.

I have responded as follows 29th March:

If an organisation with 10,498 members wrote me a polite letter asking for a minor change, I would not reply with an acronym (CEC?) and no reasoning. The petition will continue from the current 5,854 signatures and I will contact you again when we reach 10,000 supporters in the hope of a more sympathetic response.