It appears that your mum might have been right the whole time. A recent class action lawsuit in the United States claims that Skittles candy are “unfit for human consumption” and are so dangerous that they can “change (your) DNA.”
The creator of Skittles and many other confections, Mars Inc., the well-known chocolate bar company, has been charged with promoting and selling these ‘toxic’ foods to children and adults for almost 50 years. The plaintiff, Jenile Thames, filed the complaint in the state of California.
In the materials that NBC News reviewed, Thames asserts that the sugar-filled formula of Skittles has “heightened amounts” of the artificial chemical titanium dioxide (TiO2). Titanium dioxide is a chemically created compound with the E number 171. It is heavily controlled and goes beyond the restrictions the FDA has set.
The lawsuit mentions that TiO2 was banned in France in 2019 and that the European Commission was compelled to limit its use as a food additive earlier this year after the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) determined it “could not be regarded safe for ingestion.”
Skittles are hazardous and “unfit for human consumption,” according to the lawsuit, but it also claims that “any reasonable consumer would assume that [Skittles] can be purchased and consumed safely as advertised and sold,” with the caveat “However, the items are not safe.”
Perhaps the most concerning part of the lawsuit is the assertion that anyone who consumes Skittles or any other products created by Mars that may contain the hazardous ingredient is endangering their health. People are even “at heightened risk of a plethora of health problems for which they were unaware originating from genotoxicity — the ability of a chemical substance to modify DNA,” according to the text further down. Really?
Hazardous substances have the potential to contribute to genetic instability and changes that, in turn, can result in mutations and diseases like cancer when they are subjected to specific chemical and biological agents. Genotoxicity, which broadly refers to the capacity of dangerous substances to harm the genetic information in a person’s cells, is the term used to describe this phenomena.
The defendant contends that despite not having done so yet, the business “had long known of the health hazards posed” and was “dedicated to phasing out” TiO2 from its product. They failed to take action on this for an unexplained reason, and it has now cost them.
During this time, a spokeswoman for Mars told NBC’s Today program that “our use of titanium dioxide complies with FDA standards, however we do not comment on current lawsuits.” Of course they’ll say that, I suppose.
Putting the Skittles away, at least for the time being, would be a smart idea.