Just in time for Halloween, Center for Food Safety has issued a press release saying that MARS Corporation, a candy company, is reiterating its commitment to removing titanium dioxide from its food products. The company released a statement in February stating that it would remove artificial colors from its products in five years, but that statement wasn’t clear on the issue of titanium dioxide.
Titanium dioxide is a chemical used to engineer nanomaterials. It occurs naturally in the environment, but when it is engineered to an “ultrafine” or “nanoparticle” size it may cause health problems. Jaydee Hanson, Senior Policy Analyst at Center for Food Safety said in a statement, “studies have shown that the human health risks associated with ingesting nanoparticles of many common food additives far outweigh any utility for producers. There are plenty of non-toxic alternatives available and we urge MARS and others to commit to not using any engineered nanomaterials in human and animal food products.”
With nanotechnology, molecules are taken apart and reconstructed. These materials are very tiny and can be highly reactive. The scariest part is that they can pass through the blood-brain barrier, which exists to protect the brain from foreign material. Some studies have shown that titanium dioxide, which is used in candy as a whitener, a “shine” agent, and for texture, can cause lesions in the liver, spleen, kidneys, and brain. It has also been mentioned as a possible carcinogen, potentially causing lung tumors. Titanium dioxide may also potentially cause inflammation in the body, cell necrosis (death), and kidney dysfunction.
There is little regulation over these new products, even though they may potentially create risks to human health. Ms. Hanson continued, “we are pleased to see that MARS has taken a positive step toward eliminating toxic, unnecessary nanomaterials from its line of food products. We urge the company to speed up the removal of these additives, especially given the grave health concerns associated with titanium dioxide and other nanoparticles.”