Health Canada joins the UK Food Standards Agency in concluding that titanium dioxide in food is safe

On 20th June 2022, Health Canada, the national health policy department of the Canadian government,  concluded in a new state of the science report that titanium dioxide (TiO2) as a food additive (E171) is safe for human consumption. The Titanium Dioxide Manufacturers Association (TDMA) welcomes the position of Health Canada which is based on a comprehensive review of all available scientific data relevant to food uses of TiO2.

After the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) 2021 opinion on E171, the safety of TiO2 as a food additive has been critically evaluated by both the UK’s Food Standard Agency (FSA) and Health Canada. Both regulators concluded that there are no health concerns related to the use of TiO2 as a food additive. The TDMA therefore calls for the European Commission to trigger a critical re-examination of the EFSA 2021 opinion on the safety of E171. The conclusions of Health Canada and the UK FSA should also be considered in any EU assessment of TiO2’s safety in pharmaceutical, cosmetic and toy applications.

EFSA’s 2021 opinion found no immediate health concern linked to E171 but raised uncertainties based on a perceived data gap. The uncertainties raised by EFSA were fully addressed by Health Canada’s comprehensive review of the available science on TiO2 as a food additive and new data generated after the EFSA opinion. Health Canada’s state of the science report shows:

  • no evidence of cancer or other adverse effects in mice and rats exposed to high concentrations of food-grade TiO2(long-term or lifetime study);
  • no changes to DNA in various animal studies;
  • no adverse effects on reproduction, development, immune, gastrointestinal or nervous systems, or general health when rats were exposed from pre-conception to adulthood.

Following the publication of the Health Canada report, Dr David Lockley, chair of TDMA’s Scientific Taskforce, said: “We are pleased that the comprehensive review by Health Canada confirms that TiO2 is safe when used in food. The state of the science report highlights a need for the EU Authorities to ask for an update of the EFSA’s opinion on E171 to ensure that the EU’s position is based on all available data. Our priority remains to bring new science forward to answer any question about the safety of TiO2.”

The TDMA will continue to engage with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that ongoing and future reviews of the safety of TiO2 are conducted using all available data and best practices.

For any inquiries, please contact Brett Pinker, TDMA Sector Group Manager: bpi@cefic.be

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