As of summer 2022, titanium dioxide (E171) will be banned as a food additive, says the European Commission. The ban will apply after a six-month transition period.
Titanium dioxide is used to add white color to foods, such as baked goods and sandwich spreads, to soups, sauces, salad dressing, and food supplements. Member states of the Commission unanimously endorsed the proposal, which was first initiated in autumn 2021. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that E171 can no longer be considered safe when used as a food additive.
The EFSA decision was not met with any objections by the European Parliament or the Council of the EU. EFSA is responsible for periodically re-evaluating food additives that have been approved for use in the past. Since EFSA did not have sufficient data to calculate a safe daily intake level of titanium dioxide, it moved to enact the ban on it.
Companies that currently use titanium dioxide as a food additive will undergo a six-month phase-out period. During this time, companies will need to find ways to reformulate products if they want to keep them in circulation.
France banned titanium dioxide in 2020, which pushed several lobbyist groups to urge the European Commission to prohibit the substance across the EU.
Update, 3/9/22: The UK will not follow the EU in banning titanium dioxide. The UK's Food Standards Agency was not able to identify any safety concerns after reviewing the evidence, so no change will be made to the titanium dioxide regulation in the UK and Wales. Food Standards Scotland also came to the same conclusion.
The EU's decision will also apply to Northern Ireland because of the Northern Ireland Protocol.