Titanium dioxide ban takes effect in Europe leaving producers with six months to comply

Europe – The ban on titanium dioxide (TiO2) as a food additive has come into force across the EU this month leaving producers with six months to comply to the new regulations.  

Also known as E171, Titanium dioxide is an ingredient used to whiten many food products in addition to cosmetic, paint, and paper products. 

Foods with titanium dioxide are typically candies, pastries, chewing gum, coffee creamers, chocolates, and cake decorations. 

Its ban follows investigations by European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that deemed the food additive as “not safe”. 

EFSA was not met with any objections by either the European Parliament or the Council of the EU paving way for its implementation. 

“During the re-evaluation, the main concern raised was about the potential genotoxicity of titanium dioxide (e.g., its ability to damage genetic material in our cells.)  

While this updated assessment could not confirm a definite genotoxic effect, the EFSA panel concluded they did not have enough evidence to rule out concerns about potential genotoxicity,” highlights EUFIC.  

The review body noted it also did not have sufficient data to calculate a safe daily intake level of TiO2 and moved to its ban. 

Dr. Nina McGrath, area lead for content production, European Food Information Council (EUFIC), told journalists that during the transition period “companies will need to work on reformulating their products if they want to keep them on the market.”  

“After this time, a full ban on marketing foods containing titanium dioxide as an additive will apply across the EU,” she adds. 

According to McGrath, regulations do not leave any discretion to member states in implementing EU law, as they are legally binding.  

“It is the responsibility of each member state to ensure implementation and enforcement of the regulation in their country.”  

France banned the use of the additive in 2020, leading companies such as Lonza to launch Vcaps Plus White Opal, its first commercially available titanium dioxide-free semi-opaque capsule for food supplements.  

Notably, titanium dioxide is also used in medicinal products for both humans and animals in the EU, underscores McGrath. 

“At the moment, these products will remain in use to avoid shortages that could affect public and animal health,” explains McGrath.    

“However, the new regulation banning the use of TiO2 as a food additive includes a review clause according to which the Commission will need to re-evaluate the situation with respect to use of the TiO2 in medicinal products within three years of the regulation entering into the force.” 

The move to ban TiO2 was not met by huge surprise by industry, as the item was under global review for “considerable time,” Döhler previously said in an interview.  

As a result, the industry has been phasing out artificial dyes and turning to plant-forward foods. Items such as blue spirulina, yellow turmeric extract, and red elderberry extracts have been spotlighted for their potential.  

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