Class action lawsuits claim Skittles are “unfit for human consumption”, but why?

Class action lawsuits claim Skittles are “unfit for human consumption”, but why?

A US citizen is suing the candy company March over their continued use of a potentially toxic nanoparticle as an ingredient in Skittles.

The class action lawsuit, filed last week in California by Jenile Thames and others, claims March failed to adequately warn customers about the chemical, titanium dioxide, which is “unfit for human consumption”, and therefore committed a fraud with omission.

March states that Skittles is made in accordance with FDA regulations, which allow the use of titanium dioxide of less than one percent of the dried weight of the food, and that the company has not done anything wrong.

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is a white dye that is often used in confectionery, pastries, cake decorations, candles, toothpaste, cosmetics, paints and paper.

Since March this year, titanium dioxide has been banned as an additive in Europe due to concerns about genotoxicity (damage to DNA that can cause cancer) and uncertainty about how much was safe to consume. About half of the titanium dioxide particles fall within the nano range (less than 100 nanometers wide).

In 2016, March issued a statement saying it would phase out the use of artificial coloring over five years, and later clarified that this included titanium dioxide.

The Washington Post reports that the lawsuit claims so March “insulted its own promise to consumers” then “more than six years later the defendant continues to sell the products with [titanium dioxide] ignorant of affordable consumers who buy the products “.

It is claimed in the lawsuit March did not warn consumers about the risks of eating sweets that contained titanium dioxide.

“The defendant relies on the list of ingredients indicated in small print on the back of the products, and the reading of this is made even more challenging due to the lack of contrast in color between the font and the packaging,” the lawsuit claims.

Other colorful candy brands such as Sour Patch Kids, Swedish Fish and Nerds do not contain titanium dioxide, the lawsuit states.

European food producers have until August to phase out the use of this chemical. Europe’s decision was based on an analysis of thousands of studies on mice and rats prepared by the European Food Safety Authority, which suggest that titanium dioxide mostly passes right through the body, but small amounts of the particle are absorbed.

Since the chemical can accumulate in the body over time, the European Food Safety Authority said they could not rule out genotoxic effects.

The UK Food Standards Agency has decided not to ban titanium dioxide in foods, after reviewing the European decision and finding that there were too many limitations and uncertainties in the cited studies to support the conclusions reached.

The British agency said the wording of the Europeans’ conclusion was “not useful” for communicating risk and could cause unnecessary public concern, but said better data were needed for a more accurate assessment.

The Australian Food Authority is still looking into the problem.

The conclusions of a mouse study linking titanium dioxide to cancer have already been rejected by the Australian Food Authority on the basis of shortcomings in the design of the study, but the authority is planning a more comprehensive review.


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