Food colouring used in over 900 products has potential to cause cancer

Be careful what you shop for because your everyday food might have this harmful carcinogenic, E171.

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Earlier this month, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) announced that a food colouring, which has been added in a range of products, has the potential to cause cancer. The EFSA are proposing a ban on its use in the EU. Food Navigator reported that over 900 products in the UK have this life-threatening additive—from chewing gum, to toothpaste, processed nuts, sauces, soups, and white chocolate.

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What is E171?

This food additive is called titanium dioxide, or E171. It is one of the most popular food colourings that is added to make food look more appealing. It has the ability to both whiten and brighten the colour and appearance of food and other essentials like toiletries and beauty products.

The announcement for the ban came after the ESFA reviewed fresh evidence that revealed that the additive increases the chances of getting cancer, and causes DNA damage as well. Professor Maged Younes, the chair of the ESFA’s panel on food additives and flavourings said:

Taking into account all available scientific studies and data, the panel concluded that titanium dioxide can no longer be considered safe as a food additive.

Back in 2019,France already proposed a ban on titanium dioxide, and the hope is that other EU countries will follow suit. EU Health Commissioner, Stella Kyriakides tweeted:

Following the EFSA’s new scientific opinion on the food additive E171, we will propose to ban its use in the EU.
Discussions with member states will start this month. Our priority is the health of citizens and the safety of the food they eat.

What products can you buy?

It might seem like all the products you see in the grocery aisles are now unsafe, butGoodToKnow has compiled a list of all the brands and products that do not use E171 in the UK. These brands include:

  • White chocolate: Green and Black’s organic white chocolate, Milkybar, and Cadbury white buttons
  • Chewing gum: Wrigley’s extra spearmint and Mentos peppermint
  • Sauces: Heinz tomato ketchup and Hellmann’s mayonnaise
  • Cheese: President brie, Pilgrim’s Choice cheddar, and Babybel
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