In accordance with the recent recommendations by an expert panel, the Member States of the European Union has officially banned food coloring E171 from all foods, beginning in 2022. It is also called titanium dioxide, and the chemical is used to add a white color to processed foods.
In May the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) commented on the genotoxicity of titanium dioxide particles. now, according to the votes of the members, a six-month phasing out period will begin at the start of 2022 which will give time to companies time for removing titanium dioxide from all food products.
There is new research published that highlights the potential health effects of nanoparticles and it raised concerns among scientists. The potential hazards of titanium dioxide in particular were suspected to be observed when it enters a human body in the shape of nanoparticles (particles less than 100 nm in diameter).
A 2016 ESFA review on titanium dioxide stated that the evidence was not clear enough to deem it hazardous. However, a newer ESFA review declared it to be a harmful food additive because there was insufficient evidence to recommend a safe maximum daily intake.
“Genotoxicity is the ability for a substance or any other toxic agent to damage DNA, the genetic material of cells, which may in turn, as a possible consequence, lead to cancer,” a European Commission Food Safety statement notes. “This [new ESFA] assessment took into account new data that were not available when EFSA re-evaluated E 171 in 2016, and made use, for the first time, of the 2018 EFSA Guidance on nanotechnology.”
At present, the substance is found in more than 11,000 food and beverage products in the United States. It is usually used in processed foods and candy, like ice cream, cookies, chewing gum, and baking decorations.
France had banned the chemical in 2019, but this new broad EU regulation is speculated to make the removal of E171 from all food products faster.
“The safety of our food and the health of our consumers is not negotiable,” says Stella Kyriakides, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety. “Today, we act decisively with our Member States, based on sound science, to remove a risk from a chemical used in food.”