After pushback from an advocacy group, Dunkin' Donuts will remove a controversial ingredient. The chain will no longer use titanium dioxide, a food coloring agent commonly used to "brighten white substances," including toothpaste, in its powdered sugar products, Fox 8 reports. Advocacy group As You Sow submitted a shareholder request to Dunkin' claiming that titanium dioxide can be toxic to humans, leading to inflammation and organ damage, among other problems. Dunkin' says it has been testing other powdered sugar formulas and will be "rolling out a solution" soon. As You Sow withdrew its shareholder proposal and called the decision "groundbreaking," USA Today reports.
Specifically, As You Sow claims titanium dioxide is a "nanomaterial," which USA Today describes as "a substance engineered to have extremely small dimensions." Lexology further explains that, according to the group, these "manufactured," "inorganic" particles are believed to cause DNA and chromosomal damage; in a statement, the group says the particles' size makes it easier for them to enter cells and do damage. A Dunkin' exec says titanium dioxide is not actually a "nanoparticle" as defined by the FDA, but that the chain will still comply with the request because it "understands that investors are increasingly interested in the sustainability of the companies in which they invest." (Meanwhile, a columnist says Food Babe is playing you with claims about what's in your food.)