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Largest Candy Company in World Sued: Famous Treat Contains Toxin, 'Unsafe to Eat' Lawsuit Claims

  A customer is suing candy giant Mars Inc. over its multi-colored, fruit-flavored Skittles candies. In a lawsuit filed Thursday, a San Lean...

 A customer is suing candy giant Mars Inc. over its multi-colored, fruit-flavored Skittles candies.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday, a San Leandro, California, resident identified as Jenile Thames accused Mars of tricking consumers and putting their health at risk by continuing to use titanium dioxide in Skittles, USA Today reported Friday.

Mars “has long known of the health problems posed” by the substance, the lawsuit charged, according to reporting from TODAY.

The lawsuit states that Mars, in February 2016, “committed to phasing out” use of the chemical in its product, TODAY reported.

Despite making such promises, the company has not followed through, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit claims the company made “material omissions” in its labeling.

“Based on Defendant’s omissions, a reasonable consumer would expect that the Product can be safely purchased and consumed as marketed and sold,” the complaint states, according to USA Today.

“However, the Products are not safe and pose a significant health risk to unsuspecting consumers. Yet, neither before nor at the time of purchase does Defendant notify consumers like (Thames) that the Products are unsafe to consumers, contain heightened levels of titanium dioxide, and should otherwise be approached with caution.”

The European Food Safety Authority announced in a news release last year that it no longer considered titanium dioxide a safe food additive.

The agency said it took the decision in response to a March 2020 request from the European Commission.

“Taking into account all available scientific studies and data, the Panel concluded that titanium dioxide can no longer be considered safe as a food additive,” said Maged Younes, chairman of the EFSA’s expert Panel on Food Additives and Flavourings, according to the news release.

“A critical element in reaching this conclusion is that we could not exclude genotoxicity concerns after consumption of titanium dioxide particles.

“After oral ingestion, the absorption of titanium dioxide particles is low, however, they can accumulate in the body.”

The lawsuit cited the EFSA decision and suspected genotoxicity in titanium oxide, the New York Post reported. The lawsuit stated that the substance, which is also used in paint, adhesives, and plastic, can cause damage to human DNA, the brain, and organs such as the liver and kidneys.

“Although the evidence for general toxic effects was not conclusive, on the basis of the new data and strengthened methods we could not rule out a concern for genotoxicity and consequently we could not establish a safe level for daily intake of the food additive,” said Matthew Wright, a professor at the United Kingdom’s Newcastle University and a member of the EFSA,  according to the EFSA news release.

Genotoxicity is the ability of certain chemical substances to cause damage to genetic information. The resulting damage can then trigger mutations leading to cancer.

Thames’ lawsuit sought damages from Mars for fraud and violating California’s consumer protection laws.

In a statement shared with TODAY, Mars, the world’s largest candy company, responded that its use of titanium dioxide meets Food and Drug Administration requirements.

“While we do not comment on pending litigation, our use of titanium dioxide complies with FDA regulations,” the statement said.

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