Consumer sued candy maker Mars Skittles contains a “known toxin” that makes the rainbow candies “unfit for human consumption.”
In a criminal lawsuit filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, attorneys for San Leandro resident Jenile Thames said Skittles is unsafe for consumers because it contains “high levels” of titanium dioxide.
Mars Inc. It uses titanium dioxide to produce Skittles’ famous array of artificial colors. Candy maker in 2016 shared publicly plans to phase out titanium dioxide from its products in the coming years, Thursday’s complaint said — but titanium dioxide is still used today in products like Skittles.
One A statement sent to TODAY by Mars and several other news outlets, the company said: “While we do not comment on pending litigation, our use of titanium dioxide complies with FDA regulations.”
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USA TODAY reached out to Mars for further comment on Saturday.
According to the FDA Code of Federal Regulations“The color additive titanium dioxide can generally be used safely to color food”, but there are a number of restrictions – for example, the amount of titanium dioxide should not exceed 1% of the weight of the food.
Although the regulated use of titanium dioxide in food products is still legal in the United States, it has been banned in some other countries, including all of Europe. European Food Safety Authority in May 2021 announced titanium dioxide “can no longer be considered safe as a food additive” – noting the importance of genotoxicity concerns, for example.
Genotoxicity is the ability of chemicals to damage genetic information such as DNA. “The absorption of titanium dioxide particles after oral administration is low, but they can accumulate in the body,” Maged Younes, chair of EFSA’s expert Panel on Food Additives and Flavorings, said in a statement at the time.
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In Thursday’s complaint, Thames’ attorneys argued that in addition to the continued use of titanium dioxide in products such as Skittles, Mars failed to adequately warn consumers of these health risks.
“Based on Defendant’s omissions, a reasonable consumer could reasonably expect that the Product could be safely purchased and consumed as marketed and sold,” the complaint states. “However, the Products are unsafe and pose a significant health risk to unsuspecting consumers. However, the Defendant failed to inform consumers such as (Thames) before or at the time of purchase that the Products were dangerous to consumers, contained high levels of titanium dioxide. , and otherwise, be careful.”
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Thursday’s complaint also pointed to several Mars competitors that don’t use titanium dioxide to color their products, such as Sour Patch Kids and Nerds, according to the suit. In addition, Thames’ attorneys noted that Mars has other confections, such as M&Ms, that “do not rely” on titanium dioxide.
Thames is seeking damages to be determined later in court for fraud and multiple violations of California consumer protection laws.
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