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Is titanium dioxide (E171) bad for your health?

  1. Scientists have recently been discussing the potential health risks of titanium dioxide. Therefore, more research is currently being done on the effects of the substance. Under normal use, titanium dioxide (E171) in food has been found to be safe by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Titanium dioxide is called titanium dioxide in law. That is why we use this term.

What does titanium dioxide (E171) contain?

  1. It is used in food as a white colorant in products such as chewing gum, candy and sauce. It has the E number E171. If the substance is in a food, it is stated on the packaging and it is often stated as E171. In addition to food, titanium dioxide is also used in other products such as toothpaste, sunscreen and textiles.

Inhalation

  1. If you inhale titanium dioxide (for example through paint), it may be carcinogenic, research has shown. Therefore, it should not be used in certain products, such as sunscreen spray. With sunscreen spray, very small droplets can form that you can easily inhale.

Nanoparticles

  1. Titanium dioxide consists partly of nanoparticles, which are formed during production. These are very small particles. So you can ingest titanium dioxide nanoparticles through food. Scientists are still discussing the possible risks of this. That is the main reason that a lot of research is being done on the substance. A very small amount of the titanium dioxide you swallow is absorbed by your body. This is known to be poorly removed and can build up in tissues in your body. This does not mean that there is also an immediate risk to health, but it does mean that scientists should look carefully at this.

Extensive research

  1. In 2016 and 2018, EFSA extensively examined the additive titanium dioxide. They have determined that the use of the substance in food is safe. In France, however, concerns about the safety of the substance have arisen from a number of studies in laboratory animals in recent years. The substance could possibly play a role in the development of colon cancer. EFSA has also looked extensively at these studies, but they conclude that no good new information is provided. The studies were not of sufficient quality or had too many uncertainties and uncertainties to adjust the judgment. For example, it was unclear whether the form of the substance used in the study was the same substance that people can actually ingest through food. The studies did not change the EFSA conclusion that the use of titanium dioxide as a food coloring is safe. It is true that, partly because of these studies, the substance and its effects will continue to be studied very closely in the future. In the Netherlands, the Research Risk Assessment Agency (BuRO) of the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) has also looked at titanium dioxide and its possible relationship with colon cancer. BuRO advises the Minister for Medical Care and Sport to consult with food producers. This is to ensure that people consume less of the substance. It is not clear exactly how much titanium dioxide people ingest and whether the use of the dye has perhaps increased in recent years. They also give advice to conduct more proper and suitable research into the intake of the substance and the possible effects on health.

Nutritional advice

  1. In normal use, foods containing titanium dioxide are safe according to EFSA. Normal use means that you use a product as it is intended. For example, abnormal use of a product is if you eat 50 chewing gums every day or eat half a tube of toothpaste. Most foods that contain the coloring agent titanium dioxide are not included in the Wheel of Five, such as candy and sauce. The advice applies to these products: do not eat them too much and not too often.

  2. In normal use, foods containing titanium dioxide are safe according to EFSA. Normal use means that you use a product as it is intended. For example, abnormal use of a product is if you eat 50 chewing gums every day or eat half a tube of toothpaste. Most foods that contain the coloring agent titanium dioxide are not included in the Wheel of Five, such as sweets and sauce. The advice applies to these products: do not eat them too much and not too often.



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