On 21st December 2020, the French Government extended its temporary suspension of the sale of food containing E171 in France1. The extension is for the duration of one year and is effective from 1st January 2021. The Titanium Dioxide Manufacturers Association (TDMA) is disappointed by the French decision, which goes against repeated confirmations by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that E171 is safe for human consumption. The TDMA calls for action by EU Authorities to stand behind the well established EU procedure for food safety assessment and the integrity of the EU Single Market.
Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is approved as the food colourant E171 under the EU Regulation on Food Additives.
In 2016 the EFSA confirmed that E171 is safe for consumers and reaffirmed this opinion in 2018. Yet on 17th April 2019, the French Government adopted a suspension of the sale of food containing E171 in France as a ‘precautionary emergency safeguard’. The suspension was effective for a year from 1st January 2020. The EFSA concluded on 10th May 2019 that the French Authorities did not provide new evidence to overrule its previous opinions that E171 is safe.
In March 2020, the European Commission asked the EFSA to provide a new risk assessment for E171 to address any potential uncertainties. As this risk assessment is not yet available, the extension by France states that it is not possible to remove the alleged doubts about E171’s safety which led to the adoption of the suspension. That is despite the EFSA’s conclusions that the French Authorities provided no evidence to overrule its findings on the safety of E171.
The TDMA has provided relevant scientific data to the EFSA as a part of the ongoing risk assessment process and the EFSA is scheduled to deliver its scientific opinion in early 2021. The TDMA is confident that the EFSA will reaffirm the safety of E171 for consumers.
The TDMA calls on the European Commission and the EU Member States to take action to stand behind science-based policymaking and to enforce the EFSA’s scientific opinions in the EU. If the EFSA’s opinions on E171 are not implemented by the EU Member States, this undermines the EU Single Market for food and the EU’s science-based food safety process.