Controversial Additive Titanium Dioxide

Titanium dioxide, also known as E171 on the packaging or CI 77891 on cosmetics, is found in many products. It is often used as a whitening agent, but in some cosmetics, it also acts as a sunscreen. Many manufacturers have already changed their formulation and are doing without titanium dioxide – or at least checking it. Because the substance is controversial.

EU bans titanium dioxide in food

Titanium dioxide has been banned as a food additive since early 2022. The European Food Safety Authority EFSA has classified the substance as “no longer safe”. Studies show: The nanoparticles contained in titanium dioxide can be dangerous for people with intestinal disease. According to Prof. Gerhard Rogler from the University Hospital Zurich, nanoparticles of the substance can penetrate cells and trigger an inflammatory reaction there: “Normally, adults have a thick layer of mucus on the surface of the intestine, which protects against the penetration of the nanoparticles,” says Rogler. However, if this is not intact, the nanoparticles could penetrate.

Some foods with titanium dioxide are still on sale

Many companies have already changed their recipes. Manufacturers can still use titanium dioxide as a food additive until August 2022, but even after that, foods with the additive titanium dioxide may still be legally commercially available. Since the EFSA has not found any direct health concerns in connection with titanium dioxide, there is a transitional regulation: Even if manufacturers are no longer allowed to use titanium dioxide as an additive from August 2022, retailers – for example, supermarkets – can also use stocks that have already been purchased beyond the deadline sell until the expiration of the best before or use-by date.

Study proves intake of titanium dioxide via children’s toothpaste

In cosmetics, titanium dioxide is considered harmless because it is not absorbed through the skin. It is found here in many sun protection products, make-up, and eye shadow. Experts such as Gerhard Rogler rate the use of children’s toothpaste is critical. According to a Dutch study, children ingest titanium dioxide through toothpaste because they partially swallow the paste. Various manufacturers told Markt that they were looking for alternatives to change the recipes.

Use of titanium dioxide in medicines

Titanium dioxide is also used in many tablets. Here the fabric serves, among other things, as a protective film. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) fears a shortage of medicines if the EU also bans titanium dioxide for pharmaceutical use with immediate effect. According to experts, the production of pharmaceuticals is also subject to stricter controls than food. Although there is no limit value here either, the proportion of potentially dangerous nanoparticles is generally lower, according to Prof. Rogler. According to the EMA, companies are nevertheless encouraged to research alternatives in the coming years.

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