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Are Skittles Toxic?

Written by Integrative Health Daily Staff

Is “tasting the rainbow” under food chemical scrutiny?

What California is Saying About Skittles

In researching California’s potential food chemicals ban, we delve into how the state is creating ripples in food safety regulations by asking, “Are Skittles Toxic?” 

Known for leading the charge in health and environmental legislation, California has set its sights on ensuring safer food products for its residents. On May 15th, 2023, the California State Senate approved Assembly Bill (AB) 418, a groundbreaking piece of legislation that could alter the food industry, including the sale of Skittles, as we know it.

What the Assembly Bill Means

Assembly bill (AB) 418, would prohibit the manufacture, sale or distribution of any food product in California that contains certain chemicals. These chemicals include: red dye No. 3; potassium bromate; brominated vegetable oil or propylparaben; and titanium dioxide.

What is Titanium Dioxide and Red Dye No. 3?

  1. Titanium Dioxide (E 171) is a food additive which has been banned by the European Union based on evidence and uncertainties of genotoxicity
  2. Red Dye No. 3, a food dye made from petroleum. It has been banned in cosmetics by the  U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over 30 years ago

The bill that would outlaw the sale of processed foods in California was introduced by Democratic assemblyman from California, Jesse Gabriel. He claims that these meals contain noxious and harmful substances. AB 418 would make California the first state to outlaw the use of these chemicals in processed foods if it were to pass in the California State Senate. 

Can Skittles Cause Cancer?

While there is no evidence that eating Skittles can cause cancer, they do contain toxic ingredients. The national Poison Control site reports that titanium dioxide, which is an ingredient in Skittles that is associated with cancer development in rats, mice and hamsters if ultra-fine titanium dioxide particles are inhaled. Although they report the relationship between titanium dioxide inhalation and cancer in humans remains unclear. 

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Should Consumers of Skittles Be Concerned?

It is of note that Europe has banned more ingredients in processed foods than the United States which has created much debate. Since children are a large consumer of Skittles, is there a concern about these additives? If you have concerns about the health impact of any foods, it is wise to consult with your healthcare professional. 

Justin Colacino, an associate professor in environmental health sciences at the University of Michigan, reports that “Moderation is key…I think it’s good for people to be aware of the ingredients in their food.” Consulting with an integrative health professional can help you review your current nutritional intake. Visit our guide to find a vetted provider in your area. 

In Conclusion

Understanding what you put in your body or feed to children is crucial to overall health. This means being diligent about reading labels and understanding the ingredients in your food and even in personal care products. Avoid artificial additives, harmful preservatives, and potentially toxic chemicals. When in doubt, opt for whole, unprocessed foods and natural personal care products as much as possible.

California Assembly passes a bill that would ban the sale of Skittles. (2023, May 20). Retrieved from

EFSA FAF Panel (EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Flavourings), Younes, M., Aquilina, G., Castle, L., Engel, K.-H., Fowler, P., Frutos Fernandez, M. J., Fürst, P., Gundert-Remy, U., Gürtler, R., Husøy, T., Manco, M., Mennes, W., Moldeus, P., Passamonti, S., Shah, R., Waalkens-Berendsen, I., Wölfle, D., Corsini, E., Cubadda, F., De Groot, D., FitzGerald, R., Gunnare, S., Gutleb, A. C., Mast, J., Mortensen, A., Oomen, A., Piersma, A., Plichta, V., Ulbrich, B., Van Loveren, H., Benford, D., Bignami, M., Bolognesi, C., Crebelli, R., Dusinska, M., Marcon, F., Nielsen, E., Schlatter, J., Vleminckx, C., Barmaz, S., Carfí, M., Civitella, C., Giarola, A., Rincon, A. M., Serafimova, R., Smeraldi, C., Tarazona, J., Tard, A., & Wright, M. (2021). Scientific Opinion on the safety assessment of titanium dioxide (E171) as a food additive. EFSA Journal, 19(5), 6585, 130 pp.

FDA is Petitioned to Ban Red Dye 3 in Food Based on Harmful Health Effects, Children’s Exposure. (2023). Retrieved from

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