NORTHFIELD, ILL. — Kraft Foods Group, Inc. will take artificial yellow food dyes out of its character-based shaped varieties of macaroni and cheese sold in boxes starting in 2014. The company instead will use colors derived from spices such as paprika, annatto and turmeric. Kraft also will add 6 grams of whole grain per serving to the items and reduce levels of sodium and saturated fat by about 15%.

The change does not affect Kraft’s elbow-shaped macaroni and cheese varieties.

One shaped macaroni and cheese variety, SpongeBob SquarePants, currently includes yellow 5 and yellow 6 artificial food dyes, also known as synthetic colors. The variety also currently has 1 gram of saturated fat and 580 mg of sodium per serving.

“Our shape products are popular with families,” said Lynne Galia, a spokesperson for Northfield-based Kraft Foods. “Parents have told us they would like fun Mac & Cheese varieties with the same great taste but with improved nutrition.”

Consumers should be able to buy the five shaped varieties, including three existing ones and two new varieties, in January, she said.

Although Kraft Foods did not mention it, a petition on asking Kraft to take artificial food dyes out of its macaroni and cheese products had accumulated more than 348,000 signatures by Oct. 31.