Man sues Skittles maker, claims chemical used to color them causes brain damage, liver lesions  

The European Union's ban on titanium dioxide was cited in a lawsuit filed by Jenile Thames, who's seeking class-action status.

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A California man has filed a lawsuit against Mars, the candy company that makes Skittles, claiming it broke a 2016 promise to stop using titanium dioxide in its products.

The food additive is also used in paint, adhesives, plastics and roofing materials and, according to The Mercury News, can cause brain damage, liver lesions — even harm to DNA. 

Anthony Collins tops off the Skittles compartments of one of his vending machines. (Photo: Robert McGraw/Gazette, Chillicothe Gazette | Chillicothe | The Chillicothe Gazette via Imagn Content Services, LLC)

Titanium dioxide was banned in the European Union. The ban is cited in the lawsuit filed by Jenile Thames, who is seeking class-action status, which means millions of his fellow Skittles eaters could be added. 

Thames’ suit was first reported by Reuters, which notes that the complaint says, in part, “A reasonable consumer would expect that [Skittles] can be safely purchased and consumed as marketed and sold. However, the products are not safe.”

Thames noted that he bought the candy in San Leandro, California, in April and said he read that titanium dioxide was an ingredient in “minuscule print,” which he claims was hard to read due to its bright red packaging. 

Mars has not yet responded to the lawsuit, but the Titanium Dioxide Manufacturers Association said the European Food Safety Authority found “no conclusive evidence showing harmful effects” and that “no verifiable link has ever been proved between general intake of titanium dioxide and harm to human health.”

Mars pledged that it would remove artificial coloring from its products in 2016, yet it appears to have backpedaled. Thames is accusing the company of concealing and misrepresenting its product ingredients. 

A May research paper from England notes that titanium dioxide was approved for food use in the late 1960s. However, it says “scientific studies highlight the presence of nanoparticles in (titanium dioxide) in alarming concentrations, which poses a health hazard.” 

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