Additive coloring

EU adopts ban on additives used for food colors

The European Commission has adopted a ban on food additives titanium dioxide which will come into effect this summer because it is “no longer considered safe when used as a food additive”.

Titanium dioxide is widely used to color food and its use is allowed in 48 different food categories to make products more visually appealing.

Following available research and scientific advice from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published in May 2021, the ban will apply after a transitional period of six months.

This measure was unanimously endorsed by EU member states last fall at the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed.

Products likely to be most affected in Ireland include food supplements, fine bakery and confectionery, said a spokesperson for the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).

Consumers can identify foods containing the additive “to make an informed purchasing decision” as the ingredient list will include “color: titanium dioxide” or “color: E171” if the additive is present, the FSAI said.

Scientific opinion

Professor Maged Younes, Chair of EFSA’s Expert Panel on Food Additives and Flavourings, said:

“Taking into account all available studies and scientific data, the panel has concluded that titanium dioxide can no longer be considered safe as a food additive.”

Despite new research and scientific advice, however, concerns about potential DNA damage after consuming titanium dioxide particles cannot be ruled out, Younes continued.

Although the amount of titanium dioxide particles absorbed after oral ingestion is small, they can accumulate in the body, Younes explained.

Therefore, EFSA scientists could not establish a safe level for daily intake of titanium dioxide as a food additive.

The FSAI said there is no maximum level set in the legislation, so food companies are responsible for using the additive “in accordance with good manufacturing practice and only using the amount necessary to achieve the objective and no more”.

Market impact

Member state food safety authorities – the FSAI for Ireland – are responsible for ensuring that foods containing the additive do not enter the EU market after the transition period expires.

The six-month period was included in the regulations to allow food business operators to continue selling foods containing the additive to mitigate potential impacts, according to the European Commission.

However, foods already on the market containing titanium dioxide can still be marketed until their date of minimum durability or use-by date.

The additive has already been banned in food in France since January 1, 2020, so “many food business operators have already started to reformulate many products since then, especially products exported throughout the EU”, concluded FSAI spokesperson. .