The countries of the EU (European Union) gave the green light, on Friday (8), to ban a widely used food additive, known as artificial coloring E171 on labels, after the European regulator questioned its safety.
Dye E171 contains titanium dioxide nanoparticles and is widely used in a wide range of consumer products, including medicines and cosmetics.
The ban refers to the use of the additive in food, where it serves mainly as a whitening and enhancing agent in sweets, chewing gum, white sauces and frosting for cakes.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), based in Italy, discovered in May that there was a risk that the nanoparticles could damage the DNA and that it was not possible to establish a safe level for their consumption.
The ban will come into effect in early 2022, according to a statement from the European Commission.
For now, the pharmaceutical industry, which also uses E171 in drug manufacturing, will not be affected by the ban to avoid shortages of medical products.
Belgium’s Higher Health Council considers titanium dioxide to be a “possible carcinogen” and, in France, the substance was banned last year as a food additive for a year.
Researchers have established that it can cause precancerous lesions in rats.