Lawsuit over Coloring Agent in Skittles Dismissed

Mars Inc. was sued in July 2022 regarding claims related to the titanium dioxide content of its skittles candy.  The complaint alleged that the titanium dioxide – a coloring ingredient– was toxic and that its presence made the candy unfit for human consumption.  This suit was filed as a proposed class action in the U.S. district court, northern district of California.  The lawsuit also claimed titanium dioxide causes DNA damage, chromosomal damage, inflammation, and other adverse health effects.

EPA’s assessment of titanium dioxide in 2005 states that inhalation of the chemical in high concentrations can cause pulmonary effects in rats, however the Agency noted that the possibility that the negative effects might not occur in humans.  EPA’s assessment also found that there is no carcinogenic effect associated with exposure to titanium dioxide dust – concentrations up to five percent of the rat’s diet of titanium dioxide did not result in adverse effects.

The lawsuit claimed Mars Inc. failed to inform consumers of the dangers of consuming titanium dioxide and that reasonable consumers did not know that Skittles contained the substance dioxide.  Additionally, the suit asserted that Mars Inc. knew about the risks posed by titanium dioxide when it announced a plan to phase out the substance in 2016.

Mars Inc. responded to the complaint with a series of motions to dismiss.  The company argued that it was in compliance with FDA regulations that approved titanium dioxide as a safe color additive, and that the complaint failed to identify any harm to the plaintiff.  Ultimately the plaintiff agreed to a voluntary dismissal.