Skittles: what is it and what are the effects of titanium dioxide, a compound used to color sweets?

An American citizen sued Marsproduction company of Bowling gamefor continued use of titanium dioxide to color the candy and fail to adequately warn customers about the chemical being “unfit for human consumption” and thus committed fraud by omission. At Uno TV we tell you what this component is.

What is the titanium dioxide used in Skittles?

the portal of Chemical safety data (CSF) ensures that the titanium is a metal commonly found in plants and animals. This element naturally interacts with oxygen to form titanium oxides, which are commonly found in indigenous minerals, powders, sands and soils.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) describes that the titanium dioxide (TiO2) is used as Colorant (E171) and its technological function is to make food more visually appealing, to color otherwise colorless food, or to restore the original appearance of food.

What is it made up of?

In accordance with the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States, the use of titanium dioxide to less than 1% of the dry weight of the food.

Color additive mixtures for use in foods made with titanium dioxide may contain only those diluents that are suitable or safe in the mixtures, which are:

  • silicon dioxideSiO2O aluminum oxideAl2 O3, as dispersion aids. No more than 2% in total
  • Lead (Pb), not more than 10 parts per million
  • Arsenic (As), not more than 1 part per million
  • Antimony (Sb), not more than 2 parts per million
  • Mercury (Hg), not more than 1 part per million.
  • Loss on ignition at 800°C, not more than 0.5 percent.
  • Water soluble substances, not more than 0.3 percent.
  • Acid soluble substances, not more than 0.5 percent.

In what other products is this component used?

Chemical safety data ensures that the titanium dioxide It acts as a UV filtering ingredient in sunscreen as it helps protect the skin by blocking the absorption of ultraviolet light from the sun which can cause sunburn and is also linked to skin cancer.

On the other hand, the CSF describes that the titanium dioxide Pure is a fine, white powder that provides a bright, white pigment. It has been used in a range of consumer and industrial products, including:

  • paintings
  • Coatings
  • adhesives
  • Paper
  • plastics and rubber
  • printing inks
  • Fabrics and coated fabrics
  • ceramics
  • floor coverings
  • roofing materials
  • Cosmetic products
  • toothpastes
  • soaps
  • water treatment agents
  • Pharmaceutical products
  • Food colorings
  • automotive products
  • catalysts

What are its possible effects on human consumption?

The European authorities withdrew the titanium dioxide as a safe component to consume due to its possible genotoxicitythat is, the ability of a substance to directly or indirectly harmDNA Y chromosomes of the cells.

“Since genotoxicity can cause effects carcinogenicit is essential to evaluate the potential genotoxic effect of a substance to conclude on its safety”, EFSA specified on May 6, 2021 regarding the component used in the Bowling game.

EFSA relied on an analysis of thousands of mouse and rat studies compiled, which suggests that the titanium dioxide It mainly passes directly through the body, but small amounts of the particle are absorbed. As they accumulate, they increase genotoxic risks.

The Australian Food Authority (AAA) is still investigating the problem. Findings from the mouse study linking titanium dioxide with cancer have already been ruled out by the AAA based on deficiencies in study design, but the authority is planning a more comprehensive review.

Is titanium dioxide in candy like Skittles illegal?

As of March this year, the EFSA banned the titanium dioxide as a food additive in Europe due to concerns about the genotoxicity and uncertainty about how much was safe to consume. Although it has not been banned in the United States, the company in charge of the Bowling game announced measures in this regard.

For these types of health issues, in 2016, Mars issued a statement assuring that it would phase out the use of artificial colors over five years, and later clarified that this included the titanium dioxide.

According to washington postthe lawsuit states that Mars “disobeyed its own promise to consumers” since “more than six years later, it continues to sell Bowling game fraud titanium dioxide without the knowledge of reasonable consumers who buy the products”.

“Defendant relies on the list of ingredients provided in lowercase letters on the back of the Products, which is made even more difficult to read by the lack of color contrast between the font and the packaging”

Emily Heil, The Washington Post

“New Lawsuit Claims Skittles Are Unsafe For Human Consumption, Lawsuit Claims Popular Candy Contains A Known Toxin That The Company Made A Commitment Six Years Ago To Eliminate…”

In conclusion, although the titanium dioxide It is not completely illegal in the United States, studies on its health risks are still ongoing and the Mars company itself has recognized its negative effects on health, so its insistence on the use of this chemical in Bowling game could put the company in check.