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Skittles Lawsuit: Is the candy safe to eat?

Skittles, the famous candy brand, faces a class-action lawsuit filed July 14 in the Northern District of California. The claim alleges the candy known for its bright colors has a 'known toxin' called titanium dioxide in their product to give it its hue. 


U.S District Court for Northern California, on behalf of an unknown number of persons in the nationwide class and California subclass, says Mars, Inc, Skittles' parent company, had failed to inform consumers of the potential health risks of eating the candy.


In 2016, Mars acknowledged the substance in their products and pledged to remove titanium dioxide from its candy over the next five years. But, according to the claim, Skittles is still selling their candy with the food additive titanium dioxide, and it has been more than five years.


 


What is titanium dioxide?


Titanium dioxide, or TiO2, is an inorganic, solid substance used in many consumer goods but is commonly used as a color additive, anti-caking agent, and whitener for many food products. These include candies, pastries, ice cream, chocolate, coffee creamers,  chewing gum, salad dressings, etc. 


 


Is titanium dioxide FDA approved?


According to the FDA, as of March 29, 2022, "The color additive titanium dioxide shall conform in identity and specifications to the requirements."


"The quantity of titanium dioxide does not exceed 1 percent by weight of the food". "Therefore, unless such standards authorize added color, it may not be used to color foods for which standards of identity have been promulgated under section 401 of the act."


In short, titanium dioxide is FDA-approved as a color additive. But, the FDA has issued regulations approving the ingredient for these purposes.





Can titanium dioxide be avoided?


Since the substance is in almost everything from sunscreen to pastries, can it honestly be avoided?


Yes, it can when it comes to your food. According to Marion Nestle, a professor emeritus of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University. "Your best bet for limiting your titanium dioxide consumption is to choose products that don't contain added coloring. Or you could stick to eating unprocessed, whole, or organic foods when you can."   


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