Uncertainties in the safety assessment of titanium dioxide additives in food
Pigment-grade titanium dioxide (TiO2), in Europe listed as E 171, are widely used as a food additive although the relevant risk assessment has never been satisfactorily completed. For example, it is not possible to derive a safe daily intake of TiO2 from the available long-term feeding studies in rodents. Also, the use of TiO2 particles in the food sector leads to highest exposures in children, but only few studies address the vulnerability of this particular age group. Extrapolation of animal studies to humans is also problematic due to knowledge gaps as to local gastrointestinal effects of TiO2 particles, primarily on the mucosa and the gut-associated lymphoid system. Tissue distributions after oral administration of TiO2 differ from other exposure routes, thus limiting the relevance of data obtained from inhalation or parenteral injections. Such uncertainties emerging in the retrospective assessment of TiO2 particles exemplify the need for a fit-to-purpose data requirement for the future evaluation of novel nano-sized or submicron-sized particles added deliberately to food.
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