This week, the Swiss government announced the start of a ban on titanium dioxide in food. The ban will start on 15 September 2022 and be phased in starting on 15 March 2022.
Titanium dioxide (E 171) is an additive that makes food white. It is also used in toothpastes, sunscreens and other cosmetics. In the US it was first used in food in 1966 and was approved for food use in 2008 in the EU. However, the EU removed the additive from its list of approved food ingredients in May 2021. Switzerland later decided to bring its rules on the food additive into line with the EU.
Titanium dioxide can be found in sweets, dairy substitutes, sauces, some cheeses and any other processed food that is aiming to appear white or lighter in colour.
In May 2021, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that genotoxicity could not be excluded. After oral ingestion, the absorption of titanium dioxide particles is low, however they can accumulate in the body, said the report. Genotoxicity refers to the ability of a chemical substance to damage DNA, the genetic material of cells.
Foods containing the substance often list the ingredient as E 171.