US State level initiatives to consider restrictions on titanium dioxide in food are not consistent with the latest scientific and regulatory developments

The TDMA is continuing to work with global regulators to provide data confirming the safety of titanium dioxide (TiO2) as a food ingredient. Most recently, the safety of TiO2 as a food ingredient was reaffirmed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as well as by the health authorities in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, which after extensive evaluations likewise published confirmations on the safety of TiO2 as a food ingredient.

In 2023 the US FDA also confirmed that it considers TiO2 to be safe noting that “the available safety studies do not demonstrate safety concerns connected to the use of TiO2 as a colour additive.”

Despite recent reliable scientific evidence confirming the safety of TiO2 in foods, a recent legislative proposal in the State of Illinois (Senate Bill 2637) has proposed to include TiO2 on a list of substances that would be banned in foods. A similar bill is currently going through the New York State Senate’s Committee on Agriculture. Last year California adopted a ban on food use of certain substances, but TiO2 was specifically excluded.

Discussing the proposed bills, David Lockley, Chair of the TDMA’s scientific committee, said “The TDMA puts safety first and proactively invests in new robust scientific studies. We continue to evaluate the latest guidelines and scientific techniques to address emerging concerns. We stand by the safety of TiO2 in all uses, including in food.”

The US proposals follow the fallout from the 2021 opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) which failed to conclude that TiO2 is safe in foods, despite not stating that TiO2 is altogether unsafe. Other global regulators have declined to follow the EU approach.

Since the EFSA opinion, a significant amount of new robust scientific work has reconfirmed the safety of TiO2 in food including a recent independent study led by the Japanese National Institute of Health Sciences (NIHS) which evaluated specific concerns raised by the EFSA and observed no negative effects.

Health Canada, similarly, carried out a detailed evaluation and published a report on the State of the Science of TiO2 as a Food Additive. No health concerns were identified with the use of TiO2 in foods.  Similar conclusions were made by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), and in the interim findings of the United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency (FSA).