Titanium Dioxide as a Food Additive
Greßler, Sabine; Rose, Gloria; Gazsó, André; Pavlicek, Anna (2020) Titanium Dioxide as a Food Additive (NanoTrust-Dossier No 055en - December 2020). Institut für Technikfolgen-Abschätzung (ITA): Wien.
Titanium dioxide has been used as a food additive (E 171) in Europe since the 1960s. For a long time, it was assumed that this waterinsoluble material would not cause any negative health effects because of its low absorption rate. In recent years, however, animal studies have confirmed a dose-dependent toxic potential in the event of oral ingestion, with particular damage to the liver and kidneys, inflammatory reactions, and changes to the spleen and heart. The material was also found to accumulate in organs, and individual studies showed an effect on the intestinal flora and the immune system. One study also makes reference to a possible carcinogenic potential. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) rated the substance as safe when ingested orally. Up to 59% of the particles of E 171 can have a size of less than 100 nm. On the basis of the studies available to date, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) sees great uncertainties with regard to possible health effects, in particular because of the high proportion of nanoparticulates. The French government has therefore decided to ban E 171 for one year starting from 01.01.2020. Consumer protection organisations are calling for the ban to be extended to the entire European Union (EU). The industry stresses that E 171 is safe and fears negative economic consequences. However, some confectionery manufacturers have already changed their recipes and no longer use E 171. The European Commission is changing the specifications for E 171 so that it may only contain a maximum of 50% of nanoparticles in the future.
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Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA)
NanoTrust (ITA)