Press Release 11.10.2021

Food additive titanium dioxide (E171) to be banned from plates in EU - foodwatch demands ban of all controversial food additives

  • Transparency and food safety

Brussels/Berlin, 11 October 2021: The additive titanium dioxide E171 will finally be banned from all food products in the European Union. EU Member States agreed on a proposition of the European Commission last Friday, 8 October 2021. The consumer organisation foodwatch demands that the EU should ban all controversial additives that are currently authorised for food in Europe to protect European citizens.
According to scientific studies, titanium dioxide can damage the intestinal flora, and due to its nanoparticles, it can possibly cause cancer. However, E171 has continued to serve as a white colorant in many processed food products like sweets, baked goods or chewing gum. In France, the substance has already been forbidden since 2020.

"The decision to ban the food additive E171 is a victory for our health and an important step in the right direction. It should encourage the European Commission to also ban titanium dioxide in other products like pharmaceuticals, sun cream or tooth paste.” says Karine Jacquemart, director of foodwatch France. “The Commission should now urgently check all 338 additives, which are currently authorised for food in Europe. Priority should be to remove all controversial additives from the list - of which there are still many. We should not have to fight for years to have them banned only one after the other.

foodwatch, BEUC and other NGOs have urged the Commission and Member States since 2017 to extend the French ban to the whole of the European Union. When credible scientific studies are pointing out risks for health, the precautionary principle, anchored in EU laws, applies. In the case of titanium dioxide, this means that the substance should have been forbidden for several years already.

In May 2021, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) already confirmed that the E171 was "not safe in food". Its ban at European level was therefore only a question of political will. The Council of the European Union and the European Parliament still have the possibility to veto the decision on titanium dioxide within the next three months. If they do not, the ban will come into force at the beginning of 2022 with a six months transition period.