Suspension of E171 in food in France enters into force as the European Commission is still to take action

On 01 January 2020, the French Government’s decision to suspend E171 in food in France entered into force. The European Commission is still to decide whether the suspension is a justified national interim protective measure as required by article 54 of the EU’s General Food Law. This is despite repeated confirmations of E171’s safety by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) which underlines that the French suspension is not justified as a precautionary measure.

On 17 April 2019, the French government published a decree suspending the placing on the market in France of foodstuffs containing E171/titanium dioxide (TiO2) from 1 January 2020 as precautionary measure.

The suspension now proceeds despite EFSA having reviewed the safety and other aspects of E171 four times: in 2016, 2018, May 2019 and June 2019. In all cases EFSA has repeated the safety of E171. This sends a clear signal that the suspension is not justified as a precautionary measure.

As the European Commission has not enforced the repeated EFSA opinions, this deals a significant blow to the trust of consumers and businesses in EU food safety standards. The E-number system has ensured the safety of products while providing for the free flow of goods in the EU for decades. Allowing the suspension to proceed calls into question this system as well as the integrity of the Single Market for food products.

The TDMA remains committed to E171 and will continue to advocate for science-based policymaking. TDMA calls on the European Commission and the EU Member States to rule against the suspension in France and to reaffirm EFSA’s scientific authority on this matter.