On July 14, a class action lawsuit was filed against Mars Inc. by a consumer alleging that the company’s Skittles candies are unsafe for human consumption because they contain the additive titanium dioxide.
Titanium dioxide is an insoluble white powder that is often used in commercial products, including paint, cosmetics, plastics, paper, and food, as an anti-caking or whitening agent.
The suit, brought by California resident Jenile Thames, notes that titanium dioxide has been banned in several other countries and claims that the manufacturer has known about the health risks associated with the toxin since at least 2016. Furthermore, the complaint alleges that Skittles pose a significant health risk to unsuspecting consumers.
According to FDA, the regulated use of titanium dioxide, namely as a color additive for food, is safe, when it conforms to FDA’s specifications as outlined in the regulation. The agency has recognized the use of titanium dioxide in human food as safe since 1966, as long as the amount doesn’t exceed 1% of the food’s weight. “While we do not comment on pending litigation, our use of titanium dioxide complies with FDA regulations,” said a Mars spokesperson in a statement.
Not all countries take the same approach toward titanium dioxide that the U.S. does; the European Union will start banning the use of the ingredient in food on August 7, 2022.