Immediately before a decisive EU vote on the controversial food additive titanium dioxide (E171), industrial associations put pressure on officials of the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection. In a fire cry, the umbrella organisation of the German food industry (Lebensmittelverband) together with the Association of the Chemical Industry (VCI) and other industry associations called on the Federal Government to oppose a possible push by the EU Commission against titanium dioxide.
According to the industry-lobby letter (link: to original letter, in German), published by the consumer organisation foodwatch on Friday, the EU Commission, at the meeting of an expert working group on 16 September, wants to either completely ban or massively restrict titanium dioxide in food, not the least with a view to protecting children. The industry lobby is calling on the German government "to act decisively against either of the two options proposed by the Commission".
foodwatch criticised the industry's approach. If there are scientific doubts about the safety of food, then the precautionary principle anchored in EU law applies. Nanoparticles contained in titanium dioxide are suspected of causing serious damage to the health of consumers.
The Federal Government is obliged by law to apply the precautionary principle. In the case of titanium dioxide, this means: out of our food.International Campaign Director at foodwatch
"Nutrition Minister Julia Klöckner must clearly and publicly protest against such attacks by industry at the expense of health - especially of our children", explained Matthias Wolfschmidt, International Campaign Director at foodwatch. "The Federal Government is obliged by law to apply the precautionary principle. In the case of titanium dioxide, this means: out of our food. No consumer has any benefit whatsoever from this potentially high-risk substance."
Titanium dioxide - usually abbreviated as E171 in the list of ingredients - serves as a white colorant in foods. In France, the substance may not be added to food for the time being from 2020, as E171 can damage the intestinal flora and in the form of tiny nanoparticles can possibly cause cancer, as scientific studies suggest. Last week, foodwatch asked food manufacturer Dr. Oetker to stop using titanium dioxide in its products. In addition, foodwatch urged Dr. Oetker to immediately publicly recall a cake decoration product that demonstrably contains 100 percent titanium dioxide in nanoparticle form.