It was announced that Dunkin’ Donuts is removing titanium dioxide from its food. The long overdue decision was announced by the company this week.

Titanium dioxide is toxic to the environment and also to human health. It is used as a whitening agent in toothpaste, pain, sunscreen and also sugar. Sugar whitened by titanium dioxide was used, until now, by Dunkin’ Donuts in the making of all their products. The removal of titanium dioxide will not affect the way Dunkin’ Donuts products’ taste.

The trouble with titanium dioxide is that it is a source of nanomaterials, which are extremely harmful to human health and the environment. Dunkin’ Donuts has agreed to remove the harmful ingredient from their products following independently commissioned lab tests that revealed the company’s white powdered donuts contained titanium dioxide nanomaterials.

Nanomaterials have, as the name would suggest, very small dimensions which make them even more toxic for human health and also the environment. There is insufficient safety information about these nanoparticles and their use in foods, but the studies that do exist say that they can cause organ damage, brain damage, chromosomal and DNA damage and genital malformations.

President and Chief Counsel of As You Sow, Daniele Fugere, said that Dunkin’ Donuts’ decision is a groundbreaking one. She continued to say that Dunkin’ Donuts has demonstrated a very strong industry leadership by removing this potentially dangerous ingredients from its products. Fugere added:

Engineered nanomaterials are beginning to enter the food supply, despite not being proven safe for consumption. Dunkin’ has made a decision to protect its customers and its bottom line by avoiding use of an unproven and potentially harmful ingredient.

Environmental Health Program Manager at As You Sow, Austin Wilson, says that now that Dunkin’ Donuts have removed titanium dioxide from their products, the pressure for competitors to follow suit is big.

The FDA warns that it is not aware of any ingredients in food that is on the scale of nanometers for which there is data available to determine that its use in indeed generally accepted as safe. The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate nanomaterials in food. For example, asbestos is also a nanomaterial and it was used for a long time before its toxicity on humans was fully understood.

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