Home » Creams: watch out for titanium dioxide. It can also be in the solar ones

Creams: watch out for titanium dioxide. It can also be in the solar ones

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Creams: watch out for titanium dioxide.  It can also be in the solar ones

Led by the good example of France, which banned it starting in 2020, last year the European Commission decided to ban the use of the white dye titanium dioxide in all foods. On the label it is recognized by the initials E171 and is found above all in candies, chewing gum, sweets and sauces. Banned in food (companies have until August 2022 to eliminate it from formulations), titanium dioxide will be able to continue to color all other products unrelated to the food sector, such as toothpastes, drugs, supplements, creams and cocoa butter, especially those with Sun protection. Yet the substance is the same, in these cases recognizable by the words CI 77891 or “titanium dioxide”, and can be equally harmful. Not only because some of these products are ingested anyway, but also because it is such a small molecule that it easily passes through the skin barrier.

A particle 100 times smaller than a red blood cell

“It is a nanoparticle one hundred times smaller than red blood cells, so it can penetrate very easily into the body’s cells, even from contact with the skin”, says the biologist. Luigi Tozziwho was a member of the National Food Safety Council and is now Deputy Manager of Safe Food Advocacy Europea European non-governmental organization specializing in the protection of consumer food safety and protagonist of one of the main campaigns that led to the abolition of titanium dioxide.

Banned in foods for suspected genotoxicity

The press release published by the European Commission on 8 October 2021 states that the additive has been banned because concerns about its genotoxicity cannot be excluded. “It means that, due to its ability to infiltrate cells, it can break DNA strands and therefore have effects on our genetic heritage. But in addition to cell damage, it can also cause inflammation and adverse immune responses”, continues the expert. “Of course it all depends on the dose to which we are exposed, but titanium dioxide is so widespread that it is difficult to manage its intake.”

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The precautionary principle

The EU decision was based on the precautionary principle, therefore on the fact that it is better to prevent possible consequences than to cure them tomorrow. “Thanks to in vitro studies we know for sure that titanium dioxide is bad for you. What is missing, and what we are pushing to achieve now, are epidemiological studies that can give us more information on the doses and interaction mechanisms of this type of micro and nano substances with human cells “.

The greatest risks for children

“The risk mainly affects children, who are the main consumers of candy and chewing gum,” he notes Floriana Cimmarusti, secretary general of Safe and member of the Efsa board, the European Food Safety Authority. “Food additives such as titanium dioxide are so widespread that there is a risk of a cumulative effect. According to some scientific studies, children who take in excess from their diet are hyperactive, more nervous and have more difficulty concentrating.”

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E171 is not only found in low quality products. Its use – for aesthetic purposes only because it has no technological or nutritional role – is widespread throughout the industry to color white or to lighten other dyes and obtain, for example, pink or blue. To avoid this when shopping, it is necessary to pay attention to the initials E171 in the ingredients list of the foods or to CI 77891 or “titanium dioxide” in all the others.

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“For now its presence in non-food products has not yet been banned and the justification is that there are no alternatives” concludes Cimmarusti. “Cosmetics and drugs are not our field, but we are raising public awareness on the dangers of this substance and in the meantime other NGOs are moving to eliminate titanium dioxide from non-food products as well”.

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