Hershey Shareholders Vote on Nanomaterials Proposal at Annual Meeting; As You Sow Proposal Addresses Health Concerns
Oakland, CA – Shareholders sent a message today to The Hershey Company that they expect the company to disclose information about its use of nanomaterials in food products and packaging. At the company’s annual shareholder meeting, As You Sow presented the shareholder resolution to investors, noting that independent testing found titanium dioxide nanoparticles in Hershey’s Good and 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. One nanometer is one-millionth the length of a grain of sand. While nanoparticles offer new food industry applications, such as 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 form the potential for an entirely new risk. 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.
In 2014, 18.7% of Dunkin’ Brands Group shareholders supported a similar proposal, leading to Dunkin’s agreement with As You Sow to remove to 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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As You Sow is a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies. For more information visit www.asyousow.org.