Looks like your mum was right all along
A new class action lawsuit in the US is alleging that Skittles sweets are “unfit for human consumption” and are apparently toxic enough to “change DNA”.
While these claims might sound bold, that’s what the California lawsuit launched by plaintiff Jenile Thames accuses Mars Inc., the popular chocolate bar brand and multinational manufacturer of Skittles and many other confectionaries, of selling to children and people across the world for nearly 50 years.
Skittles contain titanium dioxide
In the documents observed by NBC News, Thames states that Skittles contain “heightened levels” of titanium dioxide (TiO2) in their sugary recipe, a synthetic substance and E number (E 171_ that is heavily regulated and exceeds the limits set out by the FDA.
The case goes on to point out that not only was it banned in France back in 2019, but that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) determined that TiO2 “could not be considered safe for consumption,” prompting the European Commission’s announcement that it would “adopt a ban on the use of TiO2 as a food additive” earlier this year.
Not only does the suit say that Skittles are, therefore, “unfit for human consumption”, it also goes on to argue that any “reasonable consumer would expect that [Skittles] can be safely purchased and consumed as marketed and sold,” adding, “However, the products are not safe.”
They have been labelled ‘genotoxic’
Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the suit is the allegation that those who eat Skittles and any other Mars products that may contain the harmful additive “are at heightened risk of a host of health effects for which they were unaware stemming from genotoxicity — the ability of a chemical substance to change DNA.”
In short, genotoxicity is the ability of harmful substances to damage genetic information in a person’s cells; when exposed to certain chemical and biological agents, they can cause genetic instabilities and alterations which can, in turn, lead to mutations and diseases like cancer.
Mars Inc. response
Thames believes that the company “has long known of the health problems posed” by the chemical’s inclusion and even states that in February 2016, they “committed to phasing out” TiO2 in its product but is still yet to do so.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Mars insisted to NBC’s Today programme: “While we do not comment on pending litigation, our use of titanium dioxide complies with FDA regulations.”
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