Halloween has come and gone, and if you’re like most parents, you may find yourself rifling through your kids’ bags in search of a little treat. If you’re a fan of tasting the rainbow, though, you might want to think twice – for you and your kids.
A man has filed a class action suit against Mars, Inc. over their popular Skittles candy. The suit concerns some of the coloring used to create the popular candy that remains a favorite non-chocolate treat, specifically titanium dioxide (TiO2), a type of inorganic compound, saying that the candy company has “long known about [TiO2] health problems” and failed to do anything about it.
While this ingredient has been banned from Skittles usage in some European countries and elsewhere, it remains an ingredient in U.S. varieties. As per the lawsuit, Skittles is “unfit for human consumption,” since it is a “known toxin.” The lawsuit also contains claims of “fraud of omission,” meaning the company failed to warn consumers about the potential dangers of titanium dioxide.
Titanium dioxide is used to make the colors of Skittles candies brighter and is utilized in many other products, such as toothpaste, paint, adhesives, roofing materials, and plastics, among others. The Skittles lawsuit was filed on July 14, 2022 and notes that TiO2 “has demonstrated an ability to pass through biological membranes, circulate through the body and enter cells.”
Mars, Inc. failed to uphold statements regarding Ti02 usage
Titanium dioxide usage in commercial products is not unlawful. However, the health issues it can cause resulted in Mars. Inc. issuing statements about its continued presence in their candy. In 2016, the candy company claimed it would “phase out” Ti02 usage over a five-year timeframe, meaning the inorganic compound would no longer be found in Skittles and other Mars products.
“We are pleased to see that MARS has taken a positive step toward eliminating toxic, unnecessary nanomaterials from its line of food products,” Jaydee Hanson, a senior policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety, said in 2016. “We urge the company to speed up the removal of these additives, especially given the grave health concerns associated with titanium dioxide and other nanoparticles.”
As of 2022, Mars, Inc. had not removed titanium dioxide from its products. A spokesperson for Mars, Inc. said that while they do not comment on pending litigation, they comply with the FDA regarding titanium dioxide usage.
The dangers of candy colorants
TiO2 is used as an anti-caking agent and food colorant that can potentially cause genotoxicity, or chromosomal damage. Despite consumption-related concerns in Europe, it remains “safe for human consumption” according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. However, consuming TiO2 over the long term increases the risk of digestive microorganism alterations that can potentially cause diseases such as colorectal cancer, and bowel and intestinal inflammation. And while TiO2 is not currently classified as a carcinogen, the possibility exists according to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Other chemical food pigments and dyes can cause health issues as well, including:
- Blue No. 2 (Indigo Carmine): royal blue dye used in candy, snacks, cereal, and ice cream.
- Red No. 3 (Erythrosine): cherry red dye used in cake gels, candy, and popsicles.
- Yellow No. 5 (Tartrazine): lemon yellow dye used in soft drinks, candy, cereals, chips, and popcorn.
There is evidence that Blue No. 2 may cause various tumors, though more support for this claim is needed. Red No. 3 can potentially cause thyroid tumors, while Yellow No. 5 may feature cancer-causing additives. There is also evidence suggesting that food colorants and dyes cause allergic reactions.
Filing a product liability claim in Tulsa
Consumers have the right to assume that the products they buy and use will work as intended, without unanticipated side effects or hidden dangers. When they do not – because the device is defective, or because the company failed to warn about potential toxins – you can file a product liability claim to seek damages for your losses and injuries.
For a product liability claim to have merit, you must prove that the defendant owed you, the plaintiff, a duty of care and that the duty of care was breached, directly resulting in your injuries. Product liability rules vary by state and are often quite complex. It is a good idea to consult an attorney when evaluating a potential product liability claim to ensure all avenues of recovery and potential defendants are thoroughly explored.
The Tulsa personal injury attorneys at Biby Law Firm represent clients throughout Oklahoma in a wide array of claims. If you suffered harm because of a dangerous product, a car or trucking accident or from someone else’s negligence, we want to help. Call us today to schedule a free consultation or fill out our contact form.
Jacob Biby has spent his legal career helping folks just like you get the resources they need after an injury. He completed his undergraduate degree at Oklahoma State University and earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa in 2008. Jacob is licensed to practice in all Oklahoma state and federal courts, and has limited his career to representing individuals and families who were injured by the negligence of other people or corporations. Learn more about Jacob Biby.