Mars, Incorporated is being sued by a consumer who claims that Skittles are “are unfit for human consumption.”
Consumer Jenile Thames filed the lawsuit in Oakland, California, on Thursday, claiming in court documents obtained by NBC News that the candy contains “heightened levels” of titanium dioxide (TiO2).
In a statement to TODAY, a Mars, Inc, spokesperson said, “While we do not comment on pending litigation, our use of titanium dioxide complies with FDA regulations.”
The lawsuit claims that the company “has long known of the health problems posed” by TiO2. It states that in February 2016, the company “committed to phasing out” the TiO2 in its product but has yet failed to do so.
The lawsuit notes that the toxin was banned in France in 2019 and that the company announced it would comply with the country’s law. Just last May, the European Food Safety Authority 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.”
In the U.S., the company continues to use TiO2 in the product and has failed “to inform consumers of the implications of consuming the toxin,” per the lawsuit.
The document claims consumers “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.”
The lawsuit claims that TiO2 is used in paints, coatings, adhesives, plastics, printing inks and roofing materials and that it “has demonstrated an ability to pass through biological membranes, circulate through the body and enter cells.”
Per the lawsuit, Thames would not have purchased the Skittles if he had known it contained TiO2. He claims the ingredients on the candy are difficult to read due to the contrast in color between the font and packaging.
Thames seeks unspecified damages for fraud and violations of California consumer protection laws.