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October 8, 2020

European Parliament Calls on EC to Ban Titanium Dioxide (E171) in Food

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

The European Parliament (EP) announced on October 8, 2020, that it objected to a European Commission (EC) proposal to amend the specification for the use of titanium dioxide (E171) in food products.  The EP rejected the EC’s proposal to reduce the amount of titanium dioxide (E171), instead calling on the EC “to apply the precautionary principle and to remove E171 from the EU list of permitted food additives that are currently used mainly to colour confectionery, bakery and pastry products as well as chewing gum, candies, chocolates, and ice cream.”  The adopted resolution describes titanium dioxide (E171) as “a food additive partly made of nanoparticles,” and states that “most Member States have been struggling to enforce the requirement to label nanoparticles in food so far; whereas tests by consumer groups carried out in Spain, Belgium, Italy and Germany have found nanoparticles of titanium dioxide (E 171) in proportions greater than 50 %, without the additive being labelled as ‘nano’, including in foodstuffs such as sweets, chewing-gums, and cakes frequently consumed by children and other vulnerable sections of the population.”  The EP notes that France banned sales of food products containing titanium dioxide as of January 1, 2020, and that 85,000 European citizens have signed a petition supporting the French ban.  The EC cannot proceed with the proposed amendment and must now amend or withdraw it.