Activists Push Dunkin’ Donuts to Drop Controversial Ingredient

Activists Push Dunkin’ Donuts to Drop Controversial Ingredient

With so many food providers/makers being pressured to make healthy product changes, it is becoming clear that 2015 is going to be the year for food reform. In one of the most recent food chain announcements, Dunkin’ Donuts says that it will soon remove a controversial ingredient from its doughnuts known as titanium dioxide.

Following pressure from advocacy groups and activists, Dunkin’ Donuts has agreed to drop the ingredient titanium dioxide from its doughnuts – the ingredient that makes the powdered sugar so white.

As reported by USA Today, Dunkin’ Donuts’ Brands chief communications officer Karen Raskopf said that the titanium dioxide is not a “nanoparticle” under the Food and Drug Adminstration’s definition, but that Dunkin’ had still agreed to stop using it. This makes it clear that the decision was made to appease the public and improve public image.

“The ingredient used in our powdered doughnuts does not meet the definition of ‘nanoparticle’ as outlined under FDA guidance,” Raskopf said. “Nevertheless, we began testing alternative formulations for this product in 2014, and we are in the process of rolling out a solution to the system that does not contain titanium dioxide.”

In a second statement e-mailed to USA TODAY, Raskopf said the move was relevant to investors:

“Dunkin’ Brands understands that investors are increasingly interested in the sustainability of the companies in which they invest. As part of our ongoing stakeholder engagement process, we recognize the importance of engaging in productive, ongoing dialogues with our investors to understand and address their concerns, as appropriate.”

Titanium dioxide dust has been linked by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a possible carcinogen. Peer-reviewed research available on PubMed reveals that titanium dioxide has been linked to a number of conditions including DNA damage. Through sourcing GreenMedInfo on the subject, a database which indexes available research on toxic substances and beneficial ones alike, we find that 7 pieces of peer-reviewed research has linked titanium dioxide to DNA damaging effects.

Of course Dunkin’ Donuts is just the latest chain to phase out an ingredient following consumer pressure. Mega-food corporation Nestle has recently announced that it would phase out artificial flavors and colors from some of its candy bars by 2015, while Hershey also announced that it will soon remove genetically modified ingredients from its milk chocolate and Kisses by the end of 2015.

Last year, Subway removed a “yoga mat chemical” from its bread, and McDonald’s recently announced it would stop selling chicken treated with human antibiotics.