Halloween is right around the corner, and that means it’s time for trick-or-treating fun! What it shouldn’t mean is worrying over whether or not we’re being tricked by candy producers into buying and eating potentially toxic treats.
Unfortunately, many food companies are using unlabeled, untested nano ingredients in their candies. In February, Mars—the largest candy maker in the world—released a statement1 in which it committed to removing artificial colors from its food products over the next five years. But it was not clear at the time whether this included titanium dioxide, one of the most common chemicals used to engineer nanomaterials. Center for Food Safety pressed Mars—the makers of M&Ms, Skittles, Snickers, Starburst, and Twix, among other popular candies—on the issue and the company stated in an email that it is including titanium dioxide among the colorants it will remove from human food products – but has made no such commitment on other nano ingredients.
Nanotechnology is a powerful new tool for taking apart and reconstructing nature at the molecular level – and it has some scary repercussions when used in food products. Nano-scale materials2 are really small, highly reactive particles that can pass into cells and through the body’s blood-brain barrier3 to places in the human body that other materials can’t, and cause more damage when they do. Scientists agree that nanomaterials create novel food safety risks4 that require toxicity testing, yet very little testing and regulation of these new products exists, and consumers have almost no information.
So what does that mean for you or your little ghoul on Halloween? Well, for example, titanium dioxide, one of the most common engineered nanomaterials, is often found in candy (it’s used as a whitener, an anti-caking agent, a “shine” agent, and for texture) – and studies show5 that nano titanium dioxides can cause pathological lesions of the liver, spleen, kidneys, and brain; lung tumors; and inflammation, cell necrosis, and dysfunction in the kidney.
We at CFS are working to get the government to adopt stronger regulations for nanotechnology, especially when it comes to applications in our food supply. And we commend Mars for committing to remove all titanium dioxide from its products. But Mars can and must do better by removing all nano ingredients from its products on a faster timeline.
Tell Mars to speed up its removal of titanium dioxide and to remove ALL nano ingredients from their candy and food products!
In the meantime, we want you to enjoy a Halloween without any nano tricks in your treats! That’s why we created this simple guide to help you say no to nano ingredients in candy this Halloween.
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