EU Parliament Rocks the Food World
The Institutions Voted to Ban Titanium Dioxide as a Food Additive, Thus Stalling the Expected Regulation
On Monday, 07.09.0202, the Environmental Committee of the European Parliament voted to remove titanium dioxide from the list regulating all the permitted food additives in the EU. The resolution was approved by 51 votes, with 11 voting against and 16 MEPs abstaining. This decision is ground-breaking because the substance is the most used whitener in the world.
It also complicates the work of the EU Commission as it will now warrant a withdrawal and a revision of the draft legislation from earlier this year on the food-grade titanium dioxide (known as E171). The piece of legislation will now have to change the definition and the specification of the substance when used as a food additive.
Opinions on the issue, as well as on the chemical are varied. MEP Eleonora Evi, who is one of EU Parliament’s Resolution originators has stated that titanium dioxide is used primarily for aesthetics and does not add any nutritional value, which is why it should subject to the EU’s precautionary principle and why it should be banned.
The EU Commission’s health department has clarified, however, that their original legislation provides the conditions to control and measure the contents of E171 and therefore it would be easier to ensure greater security in its use. Alternatively, the Commission says, there would be no limits to the use of the substance’s nanoparticles.
EFSA - the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) came out in 2018 with an opinion that “normal” exposure to the additive would not pose any risks to people’s health.
To make matters more interesting, the French food safety agency - Anses reacted to EFSA’s assessment that it is not impossible for E171 to cause harm. Anses were alarmed by the “significant data gaps” in the EFSA assessment and therefore they recommended limiting exposure. This led the French government to announcing it would ban titanium dioxide from 2020 “as a precaution.”