RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Some of the more popular foods we eat, as well as cosmetic and drug products that we use contain a chemical that’s been banned in some countries.
It’s called Titanium Dioxide.
Skittles are one of hundreds of food products that contain Titanium Dioxide. Why single these out? A California man has filed a lawsuit saying they are unfit for human consumption because of the titanium dioxide used to make them.
Titanium Dioxide is a white powdery substance used in food to whiten or enhance its color.
It’s used to give gum that bright white appearance. Its also used to make colors “pop,” explained professor Gabriel Harris, the Director of Undergrad Food Science programs at NC State University.
The chemical is also used in sunscreens due to its highly reflective properties.
“You never get that UV light which would cause a sunburn,” said Harris.
Recently a California man filed a class action lawsuit against Mars Candies, the makers of Skittles claiming the use of Titanium Dioxide in the candies makes them unfit for human consumption.
In response to the lawsuit, Mars says “While we do not comment on pending litigation, our use of titanium dioxide complies with FDA regulations.”
If you go about your home and gather up all the products that contain Titanium Dioxide, you will find a wide variety of them because the substance was approved for use back in 1966.
Since its approval more than 50 years ago, manufacturers have used it extensively. CBS 17 asked Professor Harris if the material toxic.
“The question is, how much are you getting and how often you are getting it in terms of a dose?” replied Harris.
Recently, a European study using mega doses of the substance came to the conclusion it should be banned.
“They said there didn’t appear to be a lot of concerns except for the potential to affect DNA in certain experiments they ran,” said Harris.
Sbraccia wanted to know what studies show about how the body stores Titanium Dioxide.
“There is some evidence it collects in the kidneys or liver, ” said Harris.
Although it may migrate through the skin on the nano-level, or be ingested, the body doesn’t like it.
“Most of it is excreted and only a very small fraction will remain,” said Harris.
Another thing to consider, the use of Titanium Dioxide is now being phased out.
The Food industry as a whole, is moving toward more natural ingredients for coloring, flavoring and other purposes.