The Titanium Dioxide Manufacturers Association (TDMA) would like to comment on the conclusions drawn by the German consumer organisation Stiftung Warentest concerning the use of titanium dioxide (TiO2) in toothpaste in light of the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) 2021 opinion on TiO2 as a food additive (E171).
The EFSA 2021 opinion finds no conclusive evidence showing harmful effects from the intake of E171 but identifies uncertainties with a need to further investigate the effects of the substance. The TDMA assessed the opinion, finding significant shortcomings associated with the EFSA’s approach to reaching its conclusions.
E171 has been used safely as a cosmetic ingredient for decades, playing a crucial role in the development of hypoallergenic products thanks to its unique inert properties, with low instances of allergy or intolerance associated with its consumption and application.
The EFSA 2021 opinion does not address or question the safety of E171 in cosmetic applications, including toothpaste. The use of E171 in cosmetics continues to be approved as safe in the European Union. This approval is based on exhaustive testing and assessments by independent European safety authorities.
Latest scientific developments uphold the safety of E171
The uncertainties raised by EFSA have been recently addressed by Health Canada, the Canadian government’s health policy department. Health Canada carried out a comprehensive review of the available science and new data generated after the EFSA opinion, concluding that E171 is safe for human consumption. The UK’s Food Standard Agency (FSA) reached the same conclusions earlier this year.
The TDMA now calls for the European Commission to trigger a critical re-examination of the EFSA 2021 opinion. The conclusions and approach of Health Canada and the UK FSA should be duly taken into consideration in the assessment of E171 and its continued use in cosmetics.
Background on the Health Canada’s science report on E171
After the EFSA 2021 opinion on E171, the safety of TiO2 as a food additive has been critically evaluated by both the UK’s Food Standard Agency (FSA) and Health Canada.
On 20 June 2022, Health Canada concluded in a new state of the science report that E171 is safe for human consumption. This is in line with the findings of the UK FSA, which in March 2022 found no health concerns related to the use of TiO2 as a food additive.
The TDMA welcomes the position of Health Canada which, contrary to the EFSA E171 opinion, is based on a comprehensive review of all available scientific data relevant to food uses of TiO2.
The TDMA continues to stand behind the safety of E171 in all intended applications. The TDMA will keep engaging with all the relevant stakeholders to ensure that ongoing and future reviews of the safety of TiO2 are conducted using all available data and best practices.
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