OAKLAND, Calif., May 4, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Shareholders sent a message today to Hershey's calling for the company to disclose information about its use of nanomaterials in food products and packaging. At the company's annual shareholder meeting, shareholder advocacy group As You Sow presented a shareholder resolution to investors, noting that independent testing found titanium dioxide nanoparticles in Hershey's Good & Plenty candy.
Nanoparticles are extremely small particles that can cross cell membranes and travel throughout the body, and into organs, in ways that larger particles cannot. While nanoparticles offer new food industry applications, such as enhancing whiteness and brightness, their small size may also result in greater toxicity for human health and the environment.
"Shareholders are concerned about the risks of nanomaterials in the food supply," said Danielle Fugere, President and Chief Counsel at As You Sow. "Investors want assurances that Hershey is addressing this important public health issue. The brand's reputation would be strengthened by a commitment to eliminating titanium dioxide and creating a public policy on nanomaterials."
Regulatory bodies in the U.S. and the European Union have concluded that nanoparticles create the potential for novel risk to human health. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not yet regulate nanomaterials in food, but has warned the industry that "safety assessments should be based on data relevant to the nanometer version of the food substance."
This proposal on nanomaterials is the second of its kind to go to a vote; the results of the Hershey shareholder vote will be made public within four business days. Nearly all of Hershey's Class B shares, which count 10 times more than a regular share, are held privately by the Hershey's Trust.
In 2014, 18.7% of Dunkin' Brands Group shares supported a similar proposal, leading to Dunkin's agreement with As You Sow to remove nanoparticle-sized titanium dioxide from its white powdered donuts. Starbucks is planning to remove titanium dioxide from all its products by 2017, and Krispy Kreme is currently in the process of reformulating its products to exclude titanium dioxide and other nanoparticles. Mondelez International recently blocked shareholders from voting on a similar resolution.
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SOURCE As You Sow