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Titanium dioxide: Further research is still needed

Update of frequently asked questions to the BfR of 6 May 2020

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is authorised as the food additive E 171 and can be used as a white colour pigment in sweets and coatings, e.g. in dragees and chewing gum. Under the nomenclature CI 77891, the substance is contained as a white pigment in cosmetic products such as toothpaste. Titanium dioxide is also used as a UV filter in sunscreen. The majority of titanium dioxide is used in technical applications, however, such as the manufacture of paints, varnish, paper and plastics.

Researchers and the general public are currently discussing the possible health risks which can occur through the uptake of titanium dioxide. The background of this are several new studies, the decision on the classification of titanium dioxide as a hazardous substance on the basis of a recommendation made by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the ordinance announced in France according to which the marketing of foods containing the food additive E 171 is to be suspended for one year from 2020.

The experts distinguish between oral intake (via food), dermal intake (through the skin) and  intake by inhalation (breathed in). Where intake by inhalation is concerned, the European Commission has followed the proposal from the ECHA Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) that titanium dioxide should be classified as a hazardous substance along with the notice “presumably carcinogenic if inhaled” in line with the criteria of the CLP Regulation. The classification proposal was adopted in February 2020 as part of the 14th ATP of the CLP Regulation, and the corresponding Delegated Regulation (EU) No 2020/217 was published in the Official Journal of the European Union. Where oral intake of titanium dioxide as a food additive is concerned, the current status according to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is that the available data gives no indications of a health concern for consumers. An acceptable daily intake (ADI) cannot currently be derived for the food additive, however, as the data base on reproductive toxicity in particular is insufficient and/or inadequate.

EFSA and the BfR will continue to monitor titanium dioxide from a scientific point of view. The data on reproductive toxicity in particular, which is currently being collected in a new study in line with the recommendations of EFSA, will have to be verified. The BfR has compiled some frequently asked questions on the topic of titanium dioxide in food.



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Update of frequently asked questions to the BfR
Titanium dioxide: Further research is still needed 146.7 KB


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