May 15, 2014
Shareowners Want Dunkin' Brands to Report on Nanomaterials
by Robert Kropp
A resolution from As You Sow, requesting that the company report on use of nanomaterials in its
doughnuts, is supported by 23% of shareowners.
Last year, As You Sow published
Slipping Through the Cracks, an issue brief on the use of nanomaterials in food products.
“Nanomaterials have not been proven safe for human consumption, and many have been found to be
toxic in animal studies and in vitro studies,” As You Sow reported.
Unfortunately, the survey As You Sow
sent to 2,500 corporations received only 26 responses, and many of the respondents did not know if
nanomaterials were present in their food products or supply chains.
“It is imperative that
companies recognize the risks of using nanomaterials in their products—including risks from
lawsuits, reputational risk, and even bans on the technology,” the issue brief stated. “To avoid
these potential pitfalls, any movement toward use of nanomaterials in food should be undertaken
with deliberation, knowledge, comprehensive safety testing, and full transparency to consumers and
Investors were advised to encourage companies to adopt transparency in
disclosing the use of nanomaterials, and to call for the labeling of food and packaging that use
When companies are unwilling or unable to provide transparency on issues relating to
public health, shareowner resolutions often follow, and As You Sow has been filing on the issue of
nanomaterials since 2009. Resolutions filed in past years, with McDonald's and Kraft Foods, were
The first such resolution came to a vote this year, at Dunkin' Brands, where
23% of shareowners representing $547 million in assets under management supported the As You Sow
resolution calling on the company to report on the use of titanium dioxide nanoparticles in its
white powdered doughnuts.
A UCLA study found that ingesting titanium dioxide
nanoparticles causes genetic damage and inflammatory response in mice.
further called on Dunkin' Brands “to identify products or packaging that currently contains
nanomaterials, and discuss any actions management is taking to reduce or eliminate risk associated
with human health and environmental impacts.”
“Using technology before it is proven safe
exposes the company to the risk of future litigation, as well as consumer backlash,” As You Sow
President Danielle Fugere said.
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