Everything’s going to be all white (for now)

We’re two weeks into the new year and halfway through what must surely be most people’s least favourite month. Therefore, I’m very happy to convey some good news so early in 2019 – particularly for those in the colours industry.

The last few years had been increasingly worrying for those using titanium dioxide (E171) – a white pigment – and those fears were heightened late last year following news that the French National Assembly had adopted a bill that declared ‘foodstuffs containing titanium dioxide, the marketing of titanium dioxide and foodstuffs containing it is suspended for an unspecified period of time’.

As those in the industry will know, there are a whole heap of products that contain the ingredient – in particular, doughnuts, sweets and chewing gum – and it’s not one that can be easily substituted.

Anyway, the National Assembly bill was due to become law in France this month – despite some vociferous and rather vocal opposition from those with a vested interest in the ingredient. There were also concerns that while the ban was only set to affect food products in the first instance, it could also be extended to cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

But a matter of days ago, France revealed that it will not be banning the use of E171 for use in food. The announcement was made by the Minister of Economic Affairs, Bruno Lemaire, who says he took the decision as there is no further data to resolve the difference of opinion between the National Assembly and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), who have declared the additive safe.

This is welcome news for the food industry and the food supplement industry too (and who could imagine a Nurofen tablet being anything other than white?)

However, the reprieve may only be temporary as EFSA’s scientific opinion on the proposed amendment of the specification of E171 is yet to be delivered (the Commission is currently awaiting further data). And the outcome of that opinion will influence and guide any future work that may be required for the additive.

But for now, common sense has prevailed across the Channel. And for that, we as an industry should all be very grateful.

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