A class-action suit was filed in Israel this week alleging that orange M&Ms imported from the US contain artificial food dye far above permitted levels, Israeli television reported Thursday.
The suit was filed against Mars, which makes the candy, and the official Israeli importer, Sides, Channel 2 News said.
The artificial dye, Sunset Yellow — a synthetic yellow dye — was found at up to five times Israeli permitted levels in tests carried out in Israel on the orange M&Ms, lawyer Nissan Yezerski said. There was no indication that candies with different colors are alleged to breach the limits.
Dr. Ilana Dariel, a clinical dietician, said the elevated levels could cause hyperactivity.
M&Ms manufactured in Europe do not breach the Israeli limits, but Israel stopped importing the candy from Europe in 2008 and switched to US-produced M&Ms, the TV report said.
The manufacturers and importers told Channel 2 that the candies do meet Israeli standards. The Health Ministry said M&Ms overall meet the local regulations, but noted that it tests all M&Ms together, indicating that if most colors are well under the limits, the entire product might pass its tests even if the orange candies might not.
Ironically, orange M&Ms were only introduced after red M&Ms were eliminated in the 1970’s amid health concerns over the dye amaranth, a suspected carcinogen.