Responding to a request made by a nonprofit organisation, Dunkin’ Brands, the parent company of Dunkin’ Donuts, has decided to gradually stop using titanium dioxide—a food colouring agent used to further whiten and brighten its powdered sugar.
Titanium dioxide is a controversial ingredient. Apart from food, it is also present in toothpaste, sunscreen, and paint.
As You Know, a nonprofit organization that promotes corporate social responsibility, has expressed concern over the use of this additive in the food industry, citing the fact that it is a nanomaterial and its small size may also result in greater toxicity for human health and the environment.
“Insufficient safety information exists regarding these manufactured particles, especially for use in foods,” said the organization in a statement. “Preliminary studies show that nanomaterial can cause DNA and chromosomal damage, organ damage, inflammation, brain damage, and genital malformations, among other harms.”
There is still no clear evidence as regards the harmful effects of titanium dioxide in human health. Furthermore, Dunkin’ Brands claims this ingredient does not fit in the definition of “nanomaterial” provided by the Food and Drug Administration.
Still, the company has decided to acknowledge the concern raised by the nonprofit organization by agreeing to remove the ingredient from its food. This decision was made largely for the sake of investors according to Karen Raskopf, chief communication officer at Dunkin’ Brands.
Nevertheless, the nonprofit organisation commended Dunkin’s Brands for its bold move.
“This is a groundbreaking decision. Dunkin’ has demonstrated strong industry leadership by removing this potentially harmful ingredient from its donuts,” said Danielle Fugere, president and chief counsel of As You Sow. “Dunkin’ has made a decision to protect its customers and its bottom line by avoiding use of an unproven and potentially harmful ingredient.”
Dunkin’ Brands will redo the formulation of its powdered sugar. The company assured that the removal of titanium dioxide would not affect the taste, appearance, and quality of its food products.