In voting that took place last month, the EU’s 27 member states were united in moves to outlaw the substance that has found uses as a colour in certain supplements and foods.
Its role in the nutrition industry has come under scrutiny in May of this year after EFSA published its opinion on the food additive’s safety.
“Taking into account all available scientific studies and data, the Panel concluded that titanium dioxide can no longer be considered safe as a food additive,” said Professor Maged Younes, Chair of EFSA’s expert Panel on Food Additives and Flavourings (FAF) at the time.
“A critical element in reaching this conclusion is that we could not exclude genotoxicity concerns after consumption of titanium dioxide particles. After oral ingestion, the absorption of titanium dioxide particles is low, however they can accumulate in the body”.
‘Consumer health not negotiable’
The voting results now paves the way for the Regulation to be adopted and published around 7 January, 2022, pending expected approval from the Council or the European Parliament.
Indications that the European Commission were on board came last month as Stella Kyriakides, the European Commissioner for health and food safety confirmed titanium dioxide’s ban as a food additive from 2022.
“The safety of our food and the health of our consumers is not negotiable,” she said. “Today, we act decisively with our Member States, based on sound science, to remove a risk from a chemical used in food.”
The draft regulation, which amends Regulation 1333/2008, mitigates the potential impact of the Regulation on food business operators.
This is achieved by including transitional measures that allow the placement of food containing E171 on the market for six months after the Regulation enters into force.
Those foods can continue to be marketed until their date of minimum durability or ‘use by’ date.
Certain Member States have taken matters into their own hands and have moved to ban or restrict titanium dioxide (E171) use over the past few years.
In 2019, the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) also highlighted the importance of examining immunotoxicological effects in addition to potential reprotoxicological effects.
Synthetic face masks
In related news, EU authorities yesterday stated no conclusions could be made after a study highlighted possible cancer risk from synthetic face masks containing titanium dioxide.
The report’s initial findings commented that a health risk was “possible for many of the examined face masks” but said more research was needed.
It recommended use of titanium dioxide in face masks be limited until there was conclusive evidence.
The Belgian Superior Health Council added the potential health risk of using mouth masks did not outweigh the benefit of using them to prevent COVID-19 infection.
“The current study results do not show any acute evidence to contradict this opinion,” the Council stated.