Parent company agrees to remove whitener from icing sugar used on its doughnuts after public campaign

The parent company of Dunkin’ Donuts has agreed to remove titanium dioxide, a whitening agent, from all icing sugar used to make the company’s doughnuts. The action follows two years of petitioning by the environmental and corporate responsibility advocacy group As You Sow.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has concluded that titanium dioxide is safe for use as a colour in food, provided that such use meets certain requirements. ‘No science demonstrates or implies that FDA-regulated products that involve the use of nanotechnology, including food ingredients, are intrinsically safe or harmful,’ FDA spokesperson Marianna Naum tells Chemistry World. ‘Rather, the agency considers the specific characteristics of the product in question,’ she says.

However, the titanium dioxide used in the Dunkin’ Donuts sugar does not actually meet the definition of nanomaterial as outlined by the FDA, according to Dunkin’ Brands spokesperson Karen Raskoff. Nevertheless, she says the company began testing alternative formulations in 2014, and it is in the process of transitioning to the reformulated product.