A California man is suing the candy maker Mars, alleging Skittles contains a “known toxin,” making the popular candy “unfit for human consumption.”
On Thursday, San Leandro resident Jenile Thames filed a lawsuit seeking class-action status in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Attorneys for Thames said Skittles were unsafe for consumers because they contain “heightened levels” of titanium dioxide.
Mars Inc. uses titanium dioxide to produce Skittles’ rainbow of artificial colors.
In 2016, the Mars publicly stated its intention to remove additive from its products. However, the Thursday complaint noted it is still used in products like Skittles today.
In a statement sent by Mars to several other news outlets, the company said: “While we do not comment on pending litigation, our use of titanium dioxide complies with FDA regulations.”
Skittles is facing a lawsuit over its alleged use of a toxic chemical. https://t.co/tNrXFDsPoe
— Complex (@Complex) July 15, 2022
The FDA’s Code of Federal Regulations states, “The color additive titanium dioxide may be safely used for coloring foods generally.” However, there are restrictions, such as the quantity of titanium dioxide may not exceed 1% of the food’s weight.
Although the additive is legal in the U.S., it has been banned in other countries. In May 2021, the European Food Safety Authority announced that titanium dioxide “can no longer be considered safe as a food additive.” The group noted genotoxicity concerns as a primary reason. Genotoxicity is the ability of chemicals to damage genetic information such as DNA.
Thames’ attorneys argued that, aside from the use of titanium dioxide, Mars does not adequately warn consumers of these health risks.
“Based on Defendant’s omissions, a reasonable consumer would expect that the Product can be safely purchased and consumed as marketed and sold,” the complaint reads.
“However, the Products are not safe and pose a significant health risk to unsuspecting consumers. Yet, neither before nor at the time of purchase does Defendant notify consumers like (Thames) that the Products are unsafe to consumers, contain heightened levels of titanium dioxide, and should otherwise be approached with caution,” it continues.
The suit points to several Mars competitors who do not use titanium dioxide to color their products. It notes that Sour Patch Kids and Nerds do not utilize titanium dioxide to produce the candy’s colors.
Thames is seeking damages for fraud and multiple violations of California consumer protection laws.
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