On May 6, 2021, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a scientific opinion on the use of titanium dioxide as a food additive.
Also known as E171, this additive is used as a colorant in food products, including confectionery. In its opinion, EFSA states that it can no longer consider titanium dioxide as a safe additive.
The agency comes to this conclusion after analyzing current scientific knowledge about titanium dioxide. This risk analysis, which is part of the re-evaluation of authorized additives, shows that adverse effects on the genetic material (genotoxicity) cannot be ruled out. After oral ingestion, the absorption of titanium dioxide particles is low, but they can accumulate in the body. As a result, it is currently not possible to determine which amount of this additive can be safely consumed on a daily basis.
The new risk assessment, carried out by an EFSA working group, is based on an extensive analysis of scientific studies, including Sciensano’s Nanofood@ and EFSAnano projects (funded by the Federal Public Service for Health and EFSA). In these projects we have developed new methods to detect (nano) particles in food products using electron microscopy. This allowed us to determine, among other things, the size, shape, chemical composition and amount of the E171 particles in a range of food products and in E171 additives on the market. That information was important in the re-evaluation of E171 by EFSA.
More information from EFSA: