We’re all about cheering on food manufacturers removing controversial ingredients from their offerings. Listening to the consumers who make them profitable is key to retaining their trust and loyalty in competitive market. It’s also their responsibility to take action as we become educated on the effects of those ingredients on our health and well being.
As much as FoodFacts.com wants to challenge those manufacturers and fast food establishments on the use of controversial ingredients, we also want to give credit where it’s due when one of them commits to the removal of an ingredient in their products. Score one more for team better food!
Dunkin’ Donuts, under pressure from an activist group, has agreed to phase out a controversial whitening agent used in the powdered sugar atop some of its doughnuts.
The move wasn’t announced by the doughnut kingpin, but by the advocacy group As You Sow. The group had submitted a shareholder request asking Dunkin’ Brands to reduce the use of titanium dioxide in its powdered sugar. As You Sow officials claim that titanium dioxide is a “nanomaterial” — a substance engineered to have extremely small dimensions, which the advocacy group claims can be toxic to humans.
In a statement, Dunkin’ Brands chief communications officer Karen Raskopf said that the titanium dioxide is not a “nanoparticle” under the Food and Drug Adminstration’s definition, but that Dunkin’ had still agreed to stop using it.
“The ingredient used in our powdered doughnuts does not meet the definition of ‘nanoparticle’ as outlined under FDA guidance,” Raskopf said. “Nevertheless, we began testing alternative formulations for this product in 2014, and we are in the process of rolling out a solution to the system that does not contain titanium dioxide.”
In a second statement, Raskopf said the move was relevant to investors. “Dunkin’ Brands understands that investors are increasingly interested in the sustainability of the companies in which they invest. As part of our ongoing stakeholder engagement process, we recognize the importance of engaging in productive, ongoing dialogues with our investors to understand and address their concerns, as appropriate.”
The move comes at a time when consumers and activist groups are paying closer attention to the ingredients big food makers and sellers from McDonald’s to Subway put in their foods. Last year, Subway agreed to remove a controversial chemical called azodicarbonamide from its bread shortly after one nutritional activist noted the same chemical is used in yoga mats.
As a result of Dunkin’s announcement, As You Sow withdrew the shareholder proposal.
“This is a groundbreaking decision,” said Danielle Fugere, president of As You Sow. “Dunkin’ has demonstrated strong industry leadership by removing this potentially harmful ingredient from its doughnuts.”
We’re pleased to see Dunkin Donuts responding positively to the efforts of As You Sow. FoodFacts.com believes in the power of this trend and is encouraged by the power of action. Moves like this from Dunkin will move another fast food giant to make changes. We’re getting there … one change at a time.