Over the years we have published numerous studies linking the food additive titanium dioxide* to a number of serious health consequences. Now a consumer has filed a lawsuit against Mars, Inc. arguing their candy “Skittles” are unfit to eat because they contain a known toxin (yes…titanium dioxide) that the company had pledged six years ago to phase out**.
In the proposed class action filed on July 14, 2022 in the Oakland, California federal court, Jenile Thames accused Mars , Inc. of endangering unsuspecting Skittles consumers by using “heightened levels” of titanium dioxide, or TiO2, as a food additive. (The lawsuit also said titanium dioxide will be banned in the European Union next month after a food safety regulator there deemed it unsafe because of “genotoxicity”.) The lawsuit argues that ingesting the nanoparticle titanium dioxide can cause DNA, brain and organ damage, and well as lesions in the liver and kidneys.
The case is Thames v Mars Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 22-04145.
The following excerpt is from our book: The Food Hacker’s Handbook: A Guide to Breaking the Processed Foods and Additives Addiction
This nanoparticle white pigment (officially classified as a food additive as opposed to a food dye) is present in processed foods common on grocery shelves, as well as in fast food and conventional restaurant foods. Frequently unlabeled in U.S. foods (though nanoparticles are required to be labeled in EU countries) this additive is used as a white pigment food coloring for processed foods such as skim milk, white cheese, yogurt, frosting/frosted foods, icing, candies, snack foods, mayonnaise, salad dressings, powdered sugar, marshmallows, pudding, breakfast toaster pastries, and non-diary coffee creamer, among many others. It is also commonly used in medicines and toothpaste.
Scientists are still determining the health safety and potential health hazards of nanoparticles in food. According to the professional organization American Society of Safety Engineers (the guide has since been removed from their website) ingested nanoparticles can be absorbed through small nodules in intestinal tissue (Peyer’s Plaques) that are part of the immune defense system. If nanoparticles enter the digestive system and proceed into the bloodstream, they can potentially move throughout the body and cause damage. Additionally, the Society concludes that “Nanoparticles may also accumulate in certain organs, disrupt and impair biological, structural and metabolic processes and weaken the immune system.” Animals studies have demonstrated that nanoparticle ingestion changes the structure of the lining of the intestinal walls. Among other potential problems, such structural changes hold the potential for over-absorption of harmful compounds. Additionally, research has indicated there are potential adverse health effects of nanoparticles on respiratory and cardiovascular systems, and studies of manufactured nanoparticles have demonstrated toxic properties. Among other health-related issues researchers are studying the potential link between Titanium Dioxide nanoparticles in food and an increased risk for inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and colitis. And finally, a recent study funded by the National Science Foundation and published by the American Chemical Society found that nanomaterials in food and drinks can interfere with digestive cells, changing the normal organization and decreasing the number of microvilli (finger-like projections on the cells that help us digest food). What this means essentially is that in humans, if such an effect occurs as food and drinks pass through the gastrointestinal tract, these nanomaterials could lead to poor digestion or diarrhea. ©
Photos: Effects on intestine before and after titanium dioxide
**Mars, Inc. had previously pledged in 2016 to remove artificial colors from its food products over the next five years; Mars, Inc. confirmed later that same year that titanium dioxide was among the food dye/additives being removed.