Is there Nano in Your Sweets?

We found nanoparticles, 1 millionth the size of a grain of sand, in Dunkin' Donuts. Possibly dangerous to your health, help us test other products for nano too!
Andrew Behar
Oakland, California
United States
2 Team Members
AS SEEN IN: Scientific American

NEWS FLASH! Thanks to our recent media splash and your contributions, the maker of Trident gum—Mondelez, one of the largest food manufacture in the world—called us to say it is not using nano in its foods. They are also requiring suppliers to provide nano-free ingredients. Mondelez did not respond to our inquiries last year, but with this campaign, food makers are beginning to see how much you care about nano.

So, instead of testing Trident gum, we are swapping in Betty Crocker Whipped Frosting to test for nano. It has the same coloring additive that we found in Dunkin' Donuts.

Are we eating nano?

How can you say no to a fluffy white donut covered in powdered sugar? As it turns out, calories aren’t the only thing that you should be worried about. Our recent lab tests found potentially harmful nano-sized particles in the white powdered sugar on Dunkin’ Donuts.

Nanoparticles are one millionth the size of a grain of sand. Because of their small size, they are able to go places in the body that regular particles cannot. When eaten, nano can pass into the blood and travel to vital organs including the liver, the heart, and even the brain. A recent scientific study showed that ingested nano caused abnormal swelling in the brains of rats.

So how do we know if these additives are in your food?  Well, if it’s up to food manufactures, you won’t! 

That’s why we decided to take matters into our own hands by finding where nano is entering our food supply. We need your help to raise $9,000 to test three products we believe may contain nano: Pop-Tarts, M&M’s, and Betty Crocker frosting. All three may use colorings, just like in the white powdered sugar on Dunkin’ Donuts that contain nano.

By contributing to this campaign by March 13th, you will help us expose more sweets containing nano. We will use this information to press manufacturers to stop using this untested technology in our foods.

As You Sow is a nonprofit organization that has been fighting to get toxins out of consumer products for over 20 years. All donations are tax-deductible and there are many perks for donating.  


More about nano

The food industry is exploring using nano because of its potential to do revolutionary things to our foods, like make creamy fat-free liquids, enhance flavors, brighten colors, and keep food fresh longer.

Dunkin Donuts

But there are no studies proving that nano is safe in food—especially for kids. Even the FDA says nano is not necessarily safe, but is not preventing companies from using it.

In 2010, As You Sow pressed McDonald’s and Kraft to create public policy statements about their use of nano. In 2011, we published a framework to help companies find out about nano in their supply chains. And in 2012, we surveyed 2,500 food companies and found only two have a formal policy on their use of nano.

We announced our findings in Slipping Through the Cracks: An Issue Brief on Nanomaterials in Food (2013) and have started talking to Dunkin’ Donuts about getting these additives out of their products until they are proven safe. Read more about the report and Dunkin' in The New York Times and Scientific American.


Our strategy

We will test Pop-Tarts, M&M’s, and Betty Crocker frosting for nano because they all contain a chemical we know is being used in nano form in other foods. You will be the first to hear when we get the lab results back—after all, you are making this possible! Then we will go public and start talking to the companies that make these products to share our concerns.

Each lab test costs $3,000 so each third of our fundraising goal sends another product to the lab.

This is just the first round of foods we want to test for nano. Check out the perks below to find out how to add your favorite food products to the testing list.


The perks

When you donate:

  • $25 – You get early access to testing results
  • $50 – You get an invitation to discuss the findings with our research staff
  • $100 - You get to vote on the ballot for the next round of food items to be tested
  • $250 - You get to suggest items to be added to the ballot
  • $500 - You get to have nano-free donuts with our research staff in Oakland, California
  • $1,000 - You get a free copy of Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food


Spread the word

Do your friends and family know they might be eating nano? Email, Facebook, or Tweet them a link to

And come join the conversation with us on Facebook and Twitter!


About As You Sow

At As You Sow, we take the old adage "you reap what you sow" to heart. We are sowing a better world by pushing companies to be socially and environmentally responsible, so we can all reap the rewards of a safe, just, and sustainable world. For more information visit

Photo Credit: Jacqueline Argote – Zach Behar Films

Find This Campaign On
raised by 70 people in 1 month
76% funded
No time left
Verified Nonprofit
$9,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on March 13, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $10USD
    Thank you!

    A big thank you after the campaign is complete!

    9 claimed
    Estimated delivery: March 2013
  • $25USD
    Get Results Early

    Same as $10 level PLUS early access to testing results.

    10 claimed
  • $50USD
    Join the Conversation

    Same as $25 level PLUS you will be invited to a virtual meeting with our research staff.

    3 claimed
  • $100USD
    Vote for the Next Set of Tests

    Same as $50 level PLUS add your vote on the ballot to determine which products we should test next.

    6 claimed
  • $250USD
    Add Products to Testing Ballot

    Same as $100 level PLUS suggest up to three products to be included on the testing ballot.

    2 claimed
  • $500USD
    Eat Nano-Free Donuts with Us!

    Same as $250 level PLUS come have nano-free, organic donuts with As You Sow staff at our Oakland, California office! (If you live out of town we'll buy local organic donuts for you and set up a video call.)

    1 claimed
  • $1,000USD
    Best-Selling Food Manifesto

    Same as $500 level PLUS a copy of Michael Pollan's book In Defense of Food. "Instead of food, we’re consuming “edible foodlike substances” — no longer the products of nature but of food science." the author says.

    0 claimed
Do you think this campaign contains prohibited content? Let us know.
Other Campaigns You Might Like