In the future, chewing gum, sweets and other foods will have to do without the widespread white dye titanium dioxide. On Friday, 14 January, the European Union Commission issued a ban on the additive in food because of potential cancer risks. According to the information, it will be implemented in six months. “With today’s ban, we are removing a food additive that is no longer considered safe,” said EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides.
The substance known as E171 is also found in baked goods, soups and salad dressings. The EU Commission submitted its proposal in spring 2021, based on a revised recommendation from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). EU countries had already approved the ban. France already banned the substance in the food sector in 2020.
Therefore titanium dioxide is suspected to be carcinogenic if it is absorbed through the respiratory tract and into the lungs. There, the nanoparticles trigger an immune response, causing the tissues to become inflamed and cancer to develop. In experiments with rats, intestinal inflammation was found again after ingesting normal amounts of titanium dioxide through food. Another study also suggested that the dye may increase inflammation in the digestive tract. The reappraisal also focused on concerns about the potential mutagenic effects of titanium dioxide. After evaluating the available data, the suspicion of mutagenic effect of these dye particles could not be ruled out. Titanium dioxide is only absorbed in small amounts through the intestines, but then it is difficult to remove: so it can accumulate in the body.
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