In a press release dated 17 April 2019, the French Government announced the suspension of the placing on the market of foodstuffs containing titanium dioxide as from 1 January 2020. An decree must be published “as soon as possible”, and will be notified to the European Commission for examination of the measure by the other EU Member States. This decision does not concern cosmetics nor drugs.
The decision was expected (see article Titanium dioxide: towards a ban?) and was confirmed in a joint statement by the Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition and the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
Here is the text of the press release.
Having taken note of the opinion on the food additive E171 (titanium dioxide) submitted to it on Monday 15 April by the Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l’alimentation (ANSES), François de Rugy, Minister of State, Minister for Ecological and Solidarity Transition, Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy and Finance, and Brune Poirson, Secretary of State to the Minister of State, Minister of Ecological and Solidarity Transition, have decided, as a precautionary measure, to ban the placing on the market of foodstuffs containing this additive as from 1 January 2020.
At the request of the ministers responsible for the environment, health, consumer affairs and agriculture, the ANSES emphasises in its opinion that the risk assessment of the use of this additive still suffers from a lack of data that should have been provided by the marketers and manufacturers of this additive, which makes it impossible to respond to the recommendations made by the assessment agencies and to remove residual uncertainties to ensure the safety of the use of this additive. In particular, no acceptable daily intake could be set for this additive due to lack of data.
Under these conditions, in accordance with the provisions of the “Agriculture and Food” law and the announcement made by Bruno Le Maire on 11 January 2019, an order suspending the placing on the market of foodstuffs containing the additive E171 from 1 January 2020 has been signed and will be published as soon as possible.
As the additive E171 is authorised at EU level, this order will be notified upon signature to the European Commission and the other Member States, which will meet within 10 days to discuss this measure.
This decision, which aims to guarantee a high level of food safety, is in line with the actions taken by the Government over the past several months:
• Calls on the European Commission in February 2018 to take action at European level, taking into account the publication of new studies highlighting the existence of potential risks, to suspend the authorisation of E171 until the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) has fully reassessed it
• Regular action with professionals to promote alternative approaches to reduce and then eliminate the use of this additive
• Monitoring compliance by industry with European regulations on the labelling of foodstuffs using additives, including E171, in the form of ‘nano’
Titanium dioxide is still allowed in cosmetic products, which are not covered by the Agriculture and Food law, but this measure can only increase consumer mistrust against it, especially in products that may be at least partially ingested, such as toothpastes or lipsticks. The consumer protection association UFC-Que Choisir has already requested that the ban be extended to this category of products.