Titanium dioxide – food coloring E171.
Its unique whiteness and brightness, heat stability, light, and ability to absorb UV rays make titanium dioxide the most effective white dye in foods. In fact, it’s up to five times more effective compared to its alternatives, so relatively low levels of titanium dioxide are needed to achieve the desired effect.
Known as TiO 2 or E171 in food as a food coloring, it is authorized by European regulations.
In decades of use as a food coloring, no verifiable link has ever been demonstrated between general consumption of titanium dioxide and harm to human health.
What is E171 used for in food?
E171 is an important colorant, used in foods to lighten or whiten food products. E171 also adds texture to foods and is often used as an anti-caking agent. It also plays an important role in the pharmaceutical industry where color coding of tablets is essential for consumer safety.
Is eating E171 safe for my health?
The E171 has undergone rigorous testing and classification by European authorities over the years, which have repeatedly confirmed the safety of the E171 for consumers.
The last opinion issued by EFSA on E171 published in May 2021 does not provide any conclusive evidence of harmful effects due to the ingestion of E171. Still, EFSA concluded that it no longer considers E171 a safe food additive because concerns about its genotoxicity cannot be ruled out. This conclusion comes after the previous conclusion of EFSA according to which the use of TiO 2 as a food additive does not give rise to a genotoxic problem.
The conclusion has changed because this 2021 EFSA opinion is not based on all available data regarding the safety of E171 EFSA has taken a new approach to forging its latest opinion which excludes some important elements of the scientific data set for E171 which does not show any harmful genotoxic effects. EFSA came to its conclusion based on test materials that are not representative of E171, nor relevant for the assessment of E171 when used as a food additive. The oral exposure methods used by EFSA, and the studies used to reach its conclusion, do not represent realistic or potential conditions of use, nor do they reflect human exposures to the actual food additive.
TDMA continues to advocate for the safety of the E171 in all intended applications. TDMA follows up on EFSA’s advice by updating its scientific program to obtain new data to confirm the safety of E171, with a view to responding to EFSA’s new risk assessment approach for food additives and help EFSA to make a fully informed decision.