The CSPI claims M&Ms contain “neurotoxic chemicals” in its US version

The CSPI claims M&Ms contain “neurotoxic chemicals” in its US version

Mars Inc has defended its use of petroleum-based food dyes in its M&M's confectionery following a report by The Center for Science in the Public Interest calling for a ban on their use.

The CSPI and New York mother Renee Shutters launched a petition this week, aiming to "underscore the connection between artificial dyes and hyperactivity in children".

CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson highlighted M&M's in particular, which he said contain "neurotoxic chemicals" in its US version. In Europe, Mars has already eliminated most of the dyes - and retained the colours - he said.

"Thousands of families have discovered that getting dyes out of their kids' diets improves the way the kids feel and behave," Jacobson said. "As the maker of the best-selling candy in the country, Mars should get these neurotoxic chemicals out of M&M's."

A spokesperson for Mars Inc, however, said it was "committed" to manufacturing and selling products that "meet the highest standards of quality and food safety".

The confectioner said all the colours currently used in its products comply with its own "strict internal quality and safety requirements" as well as all applicable laws, regulations and safety assessments relating to colours added to food.

"All colours are declared on the label in accordance with applicable national laws and regulations," the spokesperson said.

"We are constantly evaluating and updating ingredients based on consumer preference, new technology and scientific information. It is important to understand that certain considerations may need to be made when selecting natural colours. For example, the use of plant or animal-derived ingredients may cause allergies, and may not comply with a vegan, kosher or halal diet."

The petition follows a similar one earlier this year urging Kraft Foods Group to remove "dangerous" dyes in its products.