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Review of titanium dioxide as a food additive

FSANZ has completed a review of the safety of titanium dioxide (TiO2) as a food additive. Our review found there is currently no evidence to suggest dietary exposure to food-grade titanium dioxide is a concern for human health.

Titanium dioxide is a natural pigment that has been used for decades as a colouring agent to make foods whiter or brighter. In Australia and New Zealand it is allowed to be added to a wide range of foods. Its long history of use in food has not given rise to reports of adverse effects. Multiple reviews of titanium dioxide by FSANZ and regulators overseas have concluded that there are no safety concerns from its use in food.

In 2021 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a new report which concluded that titanium dioxide could no longer be considered safe. EFSA's report noted there was no conclusive evidence that titanium dioxide is harmful, but raised concerns that some studies suggest it may damage DNA. Because of this EFSA decided they were not able to set an amount of titanium dioxide that could be safely consumed each day.

Given the concerns raised, FSANZ reviewed key evidence relating to the safety of titanium dioxide in food. We reviewed the scientific literature and issued a call for information relevant to titanium dioxide's safety. Information received included new scientific data that addressed some of the concerns raised by EFSA.

In line with the outcomes of recent reviews conducted in the United Kingdom (UK) and Canada, FSANZ found no safety concerns. 

International response

In the United Kingdom (UK), the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has initiated a review of the EFSA opinion, seeking independent expert advice from the UK Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, consumer Products and the Environment (COT) and the Committee on Mutagenicity of Chemicals in Food, consumer Products and the Environment (COM).

The COT issued an interim position paper in January 2022 which concluded that, on balance, the weight of evidence did not support the conclusions drawn by EFSA. The FSA is now conducting its own review of the safety of titanium dioxide in foods, with support from the COT and COM.

In June 2022, Health Canada published a State of the science report on titanium dioxide as  food additive. This review found there is no conclusive scientific evidence titanium dioxide in food is a concern for human health.

In January 2022 the European Union (EU) published a Regulation removing the authorisation for use of titanium dioxide as a food additive in the EU. This Regulation entered into force on 7 February 2022. The Regulation included a 6-month transition period, which ended on 7 August 2022.

The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) completed an assessment of titanium dioxide in October 2023. In light of the very low oral absorption of titanium dioxide, and the absence of any identifiable hazard associated with titanium dioxide in the diet, JECFA reaffirmed the acceptable daily intake (ADI) “not specified” established in 1969. 

More information

Page last updated 6 December 2023