Lawyers have claimed that Skittles are “unfit for human consumption”, alleging that the sweets contain a toxin called titanium dioxide.
A lawsuit filed late last week in a northern California federal court against Mars Inc has sought class-action status.
Skittles fans are “at heightened risk of a host of health effects for which they were unaware stemming from genotoxicity – the ability of a chemical substance to change DNA,” alleges Jenile Thomas, who filed the suit.
The suit alleges Mars has been aware of the claimed risks linked to the chemical, pledging in February 2016 to phase out its use.
When France banned the chemical in 2019, Mars said it would comply, the papers claimed.
However, Mars is alleged to have said six years ago that the phase-out was because “consumers today are calling on food manufacturers to use more natural ingredients in their products”.
The suit stated: “Incredibly, Defendant even claimed that ‘[a]rtificial colors pose no known risks to human health or safety’.
“In doing so, Defendant concealed from consumers material information it knew.”
Mars told the Reuters news agency that it did not comment on ongoing legal matters.
The lawsuit alleges Skittles products in the US still contain titanium dioxide as an additive, with Mars failing to inform consumers of the implications of consuming the toxin”.
The brand’s ingredient lists sometimes say they might or might not contain the chemical.
The list is given in “minuscule print on the back of the products,” with the text made “challenging” to read due to the colours on the packaging, the suit claims.
The company should tell customers that the product “should otherwise be approached with caution”.
Titanium dioxide “can no longer be considered safe as a food additive”, the European Food Safety Authority declared last year.
“After oral ingestion, the absorption of titanium dioxide particles is low, however they can accumulate in the body,” the authority said.