A group dedicated to environmental protection and corporate responsibility known as “As You Sow” released a letter from Dunkin’ Donuts Director of Corporate Social Responsibility recently, outlining Dunkin’ Donuts decision to alter their powdered doughnut formula. The letter stated that the company will be moving away from the use of titanium dioxide in its tasty treats.
The letter was a response to a proposal put forward by the advocacy group last year attempting to force the major brand to cut down on using a whitening agent which they claim has significant food safety issues. Titanium dioxide is primarily used as an agent to brighten substances that are white in colour, such as toothpaste or sugar. However, certain groups have argued that it can lead to significant health problems when consumed.
The company response
In 2013, the advocacy group “As You Sow” commissioned an independent study to test ten different types of doughnuts, which lead to the discovery of titanium dioxide in Dunkin Donuts’ and Hostess products.
Though the current data regarding nanomaterials is incomplete, initial studies have shown that these tiny particles could cause a range of harmful results, including “DNA and chromosomal damage, organ damage, inflammation, brain damage” and more.
According to officials from Dunkin’ Donuts, the ingredient that is used in their powdered sugar produce does not reflect the FDA approved definition of “nanoparticle”. However, despite this, they have begun to test new formulas, and are in the process of introducing a solution that does not contain titanium dioxide.
The significance of the sweet solution
Dunkin’s decision to roll out a new formula has arrived at a particularly important time, as activist groups are beginning to pay more attention to the ingredients that big brands use in their products. Extra attention has been placed on numerous organisations, from Subway sandwiches, to McDonalds’ decision to use antibiotic-free chickens.
It seems that consumers are placing more importance on the relevance of health-conscious and safe ingredients in their foods. If brands want to keep their customers, they may need to start making steps towards healthier products.