Mars Inc. announced that over the next five years, it plans to remove all artificial colors from its food products for people, a news release said. The sweeping change would affect more than 50 Mars-owned brands, including M&M’s, Skittles, Wrigley’s gum, Snickers and Twix candies.

"We're in the business of satisfying and delighting the people who love our products," said Grant F. Reid, president and CEO of Mars, the release said. "Eliminating all artificial colors from our human food portfolio is a massive undertaking, and one that will take time and hard work to accomplish. Our consumers are the boss and we hear them. If it's the right thing to do for them, it's the right thing to do for Mars." 

The move to nix artificial colors comes as consumers are placing increasing pressure on food manufacturers to use more natural ingredients. But despite the elimination of artificial colors, the company said it will maintain the vibrant colors for which brands like M&M’s and Skittles are known. 

The company’s strategy includes partnering with suppliers to identify new ingredients and formulas that meet its safety and quality standards, along with addressing all legal and regulatory requirements. Mars said it might use slightly different formulations for products in different markets based on consumer preferences, ingredient availability and local regulations. Mars’ pet food brands will not be affected.

Other food companies have made similar moves. Kraft Foods Group Inc. said it would stop using artificial preservatives or coloring in its macaroni and cheese in the U.S. in 2016, and Nestlé SA said in 2015 that it would remove artificial flavors and coloring from all candy products by year's end, the Wall Street Journal reported. While colorings such as Red 40 have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, such ingredients have been scrutinized in recent years as consumer advocacy groups have linked them to poor health effects.