Nanomaterials in our Food?


After engaging with As You Sow, Dunkin’ Donuts agreed to remove titanium dioxide, a common source of nanomaterials, from their powdered sugar.

Healthy, safe food is a basic human right. That’s why As You Sow is constantly working to protect human health by engaging companies responsible for what is in our food.

A potentially harmful ingredient now being used by the food industry are nanomaterials, which consist of microscopic, engineered particles that can pass through cell membranes and go places in the body normal ingredients cannot. Nanoparticles are increasingly used in foods as coloring, preservatives, and flavorings.

Yet nanoparticles are being used before they have been proven safe. Preliminary studies show that when eaten, engineered nanomaterials can cause DNA and chromosomal damage, organ damage, inflammation, brain damage, and genital malformations, among other harms. Until manufacturers can prove that nanoparticles are safe, they should not be used in our foods.

That is the message we took to Dunkin Donuts, which was using nano-titanium dioxide, a metal used to whiten foods, in its donuts. After two years of filing resolutions at Dunkin’ and working with the company to find alternatives, Dunkin’ agreed in May to remove titanium dioxide from the powdered sugar it uses to make donuts. “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.

As a result of our work and growing consumer concern about nanomaterials in foods, Krispy Kreme and Starbucks have also communicated to us their intention to remove nano-titanium dioxide across their food lines. We are now working with other major food brands to transform their policies on risky nanomaterials. Stay tuned at