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A group of consumers are suing candy maker Mars, alleging Skittles contain a "known toxin" that makes the rainbow candies "unfit" to eat.
A class action lawsuit filed on Thursday in Oakland, California by San Leandro resident Jenile Thames alleged that Skittles are unsafe for consumers because they contain "heightened levels" of titanium dioxide.
This June 1, 2016, file photo shows Skittles in New York. Mars Inc., the maker of Skittles and M&Ms, is breaking ranks with other food companies. It?s denouncing an industry-funded paper that says recommendations on limiting sugar are based on we (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File / AP Newsroom)
Seeking class-action status filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Thursday, attorneys for San Leandro resident Jenile Thames said that Skittles were unsafe for consumers because they contain "heightened levels" of titanium dioxideor, TiO2, as a food additive.
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The lawsuit also said titanium dioxide will be banned in the European Union next month after a food safety regulator there deemed it unsafe because of "genotoxicity," or the ability to change DNA.
Mars Inc. uses titanium dioxide to produce Skittles' rainbow of artificial colors. In October 2016, the candy maker shared in a press release its intention to remove titanium dioxide from its products in the coming years, but titanium dioxide is still used in products like Skittles today, the lawsuit states.
According to the lawsuit, titanium dioxide is used in paint, adhesives, plastics and roofing materials, and can cause DNA, brain and organ damage, and well as lesions in the liver and kidneys.
"A reasonable consumer would expect that [Skittles] can be safely purchased and consumed as marketed and sold," the complaint said. "However, the products are not safe."
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Skittles candies are seen in a shop. | Getty Images
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In May 2021, the European Food Safety Authority announced that titanium dioxide "can no longer be considered safe as a food additive." However, the food additive is still legal in the United States.
According to the FDA's Code of Federal Regulation, "The color additive titanium dioxide may be safely used for coloring foods generally." However, the FDA regulates the quantity of titanium dioxide must not exceed 1% of the food's weight.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for fraud and violations of California consumer protection laws.
Thames, of San Leandro, California, said he bought Skittles at a local QuikStop in April, and would not have done so had he known.
Thames claims that checking the label would not have helped because the ingredients on Skittles' bright-red packages are hard to read.
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The case is Thames V Mars Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 22-04145.
Mars did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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