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Update EFSA opinion on titanium dioxide (E171): towards a reconsideration of its use in Europe?

The European Food Safety Agency has published an updated opinion on titanium dioxide (E171), a food additive very commonly used as white colorant in foods, and banned for use in France. At the request of the European Commission, EFSA has updated in 2016 first opinion on titanium dioxide in order to take into account the new toxicity data.

EFSA notably considered data on nanoparticles and an extended one-generation reproductive toxicity study. EFSA concluded that TiO2 may accumulate in the body. However, no toxicological relevant effect was noted in animal toxicity studies, including the reproductive and developmental toxicity. However, potential immunotoxicity, inflammation, neurotoxicity, and genotoxicity have been highlighted.

EFSA noted that current evidences are associated with several uncertainties, and that a concern of genotoxicity could not be ruled out. The panel concluded therefore that TiO2 can no longer be considered as safe when used as food additive. The commission should now therefore decide to maintain or to modify the authorization of titanium dioxide for food use in Europe. As in France, a ban of this controversial food additive in Europe may occur in the next months.

EFSA FAF Panel (EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Flavourings), Younes M,Aquilina G, Castle L, Engel K-H, Fowler P, Frutos Fernandez MJ, Furst P, Gundert-Remy U, Gurtler R,Husøy T, Manco M, Mennes W, Moldeus P, Passamonti S, Shah R, Waalkens-Berendsen I, WolfeD, Corsini E, Cubadda F, De Groot D, FitzGerald R, Gunnare S, Gutleb AC, Mast J, Mortensen A, Oomen A,Piersma A, Plichta V, Ulbrich B, Van Loveren H, Benford D, Bignami M, Bolognesi C, Crebelli R,Dusinska M, Marcon F, Nielsen E, Schlatter J, Vleminckx C, Barmaz S, Carffiı M, Civitella C, Giarola A,Rincon AM, Serafimova R, Smeraldi C, Tarazona J, Tard A and Wright M, 2021. Scientific Opinion onthe safety assessment of titanium dioxide (E171) as a food additive. EFSA Journal 2021;19(5):6585,130 pp.