(Reuters) – Mars Inc. has been sued by a consumer who claims that Skittles sweets are unsuitable for eating because they contain a known toxin that the company promised to phase out six years ago.
In a proposed class action lawsuit filed Thursday in Oakland, California’s federal court, Jenile Thames accused Mars of endangering unsuspecting Skittles eaters by using “elevated levels” of titanium dioxide, or TiO2, as a food additive.
The trial also said that titanium dioxide will be banned in the European Union next month after a food safety regulator there considered it unsafe due to “genotoxicity” or the ability to alter DNA.
“A reasonable consumer would expect that [Skittles] can be bought and consumed safely when marketed and sold, “the complaint said.”; But the products are not safe. “
The lawsuit concerns unspecified damages for fraud and violations of California’s consumer protection laws.
March did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.
The privately held McLean Virginia-based company promised in February 2016 to remove artificial colors from its food products for the next five years.
In October 2016, it confirmed that titanium dioxide was among the dyes removed, according to the nonprofit Center for Food Safety, citing an email from Mars.
According to the lawsuit, titanium dioxide is used in paint, glue, plastic and roofing materials and can cause DNA, brain and organ damage as well as damage to the liver and kidneys.
Thames, from San Leandro, California, said he bought Skittles at a local QuikStop in April and would not have done so if he knew the content.
He said it would not have helped to check the label because the ingredients on Skittle’s bright red packaging are difficult to read.
The case is Thames v Mars Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 22-04145.