Friday, 15 July 2022
Titanium dioxide (E171) is an additive that is used in food as a colour. The function of food colours is to make food more visually appealing, to give colour to food that would otherwise be colourless, or to restore the original appearance of food. Titanium dioxide is used to provide whiteness and opacity to foods.
In terms of dietary exposure, titanium dioxide is often used in a variety of food categories, including bakery products, soups, broths, sauces, salads, savoury based sandwich spreads and processed nuts. It is also used in confectionary, chewing gum, food supplements and cake icing.
In May 2021, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published an opinion that stated that titanium dioxide can no longer be considered safe when used as a food additive.
Based on this opinion, the European Commission and the Member States agreed to remove all uses of titanium dioxide as an additive in food. In January 2022, a Regulation withdrawing the authorisation to use titanium dioxide as a food additive in food products was adopted i.e. Commission Regulation (EU) 2022/63.
This regulation entered into force on 7 February 2022. However, the Regulation included a six-month transitional period to allow food businesses time to phase out the use of this food additive and to reformulate their products using suitable alternatives. This period will end on 7 August 2022.
Food containing titanium dioxide that is lawfully placed on the EU market before 7 August 2022 may remain on the market until its date of minimum durability or its ‘use-by’ date has passed. Food produced or placed on the market after 7 August 2022 cannot contain titanium dioxide. The ban on the use of titanium dioxide is effective in each EU Member State, and in Northern Ireland. Some third countries, such as the United Kingdom (excluding Northern Ireland), continue to permit the use of titanium dioxide.
All food businesses currently using titanium dioxide as a food additive have a legal responsibility to comply with the requirements of Regulation (EU) 2022/63, banning the use of titanium dioxide. The FSAI encourages food businesses to source suitable alternatives to titanium dioxide and start the process of reformulation now to ensure compliance in advance of the ban coming into force on 7 August 2022.
How can food businesses comply with this Regulation?
- Familiarise yourself with the Regulation and its requirements
- Assess your business:
- Do you manufacture, stock, or sell any food products that currently contain titanium dioxide?
- Do you import any food products that contain titanium dioxide?
- Do you export any food products that contain titanium dioxide? If so, familiarise yourself with the Regulation and the rules of the country to which you export
- Assess your supply chain:
- Where do you source these food products from?
- Are your suppliers aware of this ban? Are they sourcing alternatives to comply with the legislative requirements?
- Will the manufacturer reformulate the food product or do you need to source an alternative food product?
For more information about titanium dioxide and EFSA’s opinion, please see our additive information in the Business Advice section.