Titanium dioxide or titanium white is used in a wide range of industries, including food. Due to the nanoparticles’ side effects, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) ruled this May that the E171 dye will not be allowed in food production starting in 2022.
Titanium White Dye Use
The dye under the code E171 is used by the cosmetics industry, electronics manufacturers, used as a pigment in paints, paper, ceramics, as a dye in ink pens, tablets, as a hydrophobic material on a variety of surfaces. The food industry also uses this additive extensively as a white coloring agent in chewing gum, candy, confectionery, jellies, jams, and animal feed.
Titanium white has been mass-produced for more than 100 years. It occurs naturally in crystalline form in minerals such as ilmenite or leucoxene, which are commonly found on sandy beaches. However, it is produced by refining from underground ore reserves.
Side Effects of the Additive E171
European Union member states have formally banned the use of E171 following recommendations from experts who do not consider titanium dioxide (E171) to be a safe food additive. Although titanium dioxide is not easily absorbed by the human body, trace amounts can be detected in the blood, brain, or glands after ingestion.
The largest amounts are concentrated in the lymph nodes and lungs. An increased risk of tumors has been shown in animal models when inhaled. May cause skin irritation in sensitive persons. Titanium white contains up to 50 % nanoparticles to which the consumer may be exposed. EFSA decided to use this substance because of genotoxicity concerns.
So far, the use of E171 dye in food has been allowed throughout the EU, except in baby food. In France, its use in food was already banned in 2019. In the US, this additive is allowed and found in more than 11 thousand different foods and beverages.