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Titanium Dioxide Stewardship Council Statement Opposing California Assembly Bill 418

Erich Shea

WASHINGTON (March 22, 2023) — The American Chemistry Council’s Titanium Dioxide Stewardship Council issued the following statement in response to the California Assembly Bill 418, which would ban Titanium Dioxide and other ingredients made or sold in the state.

The Titanium Dioxide Stewardship Council (TDSC) supports the strong existing regulatory processes that help support a wholesome, safe food supply. We therefore oppose California AB 418 as an overly broad and unnecessary burden on consumers, manufacturers, and regulators that could also complicate and impede current government oversight of food additive safety. AB 418 unnecessarily politicizes food additive safety determinations and undermine thorough processes that rely on on-going assessment of adverse event reports, peer-reviewed scientific research, and careful consideration of risk based on actual or reasonably anticipated dietary exposures.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continuously assesses the safety of all food additives, including titanium dioxide (TiO2) pigment as a colorant in food, and has issued guidance clarifying the safe use of TiO2 as a food additive. Despite assertions that TiO2 has not been assessed recently, in a recent article in Food Navigator, FDA said, “The available safety studies do not demonstrate safety concerns connected to the use of titanium dioxide as a color additive.” It also noted that the European opinion was based on studies that “included test materials not representative of the color additive, and some tests included administration routes not relevant to human dietary exposure.” Finally, “FDA continues to allow for the safe use of titanium dioxide as a color additive in foods generally according to the specifications and conditions, including that the quantity of titanium dioxide does not exceed 1% by weight of the food.”

Despite the bill sponsors’ assertion that the U.S. food safety system is inferior to the one in Europe, there is also a broad global consensus concerning the safety of TiO2 as a food additive.

  • U.K. Food Standards Agency (FSA): FSA initiated a review and has received an interim opinion from the UK Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT). The COT opinion is that “the weight of evidence did not support the conclusions drawn by EFSA [The European Food Safety Authority]” that TiO2 is not safe as a food additive. The COT also agreed with the comments of the European Commission with regards to risk communication, saying “As it stands the conclusion is highly risk adverse based on the weak evidence available, and it might create unnecessary concern to the public.” The COT further raised concerns about raising unnecessary concerns based “on a dataset with a lot of uncertainties.”
  • Health Canada: Recently, Health Canada reaffirmed the safety of TiO2 in food in its comprehensive June 2022 state of the science report, where its Food Directorate division said it “did not identify any compelling health concerns for the use of TiO2 as a food additive in the course of this review.”
  • Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ): In September 2022, the department completed a review of the safety of TiO2 as a food additive, and concluded, “Our review found there is currently no evidence to suggest dietary exposure to food-grade titanium dioxide is a concern for human health.”

TDSC supports U.S. FDA’s robust and protective oversight of food safety and adherence to scientifically sound regulation. However, AB 418 has the potential to disrupt the current process by which federal and state regulators review these products and could have far-reaching consequences for consumers and industry in California and across the country.

American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council’s mission is to advocate for the people, policy, and products of chemistry that make the United States the global leader in innovation and manufacturing. To achieve this, we: Champion science-based policy solutions across all levels of government; Drive continuous performance improvement to protect employees and communities through Responsible Care®; Foster the development of sustainability practices throughout ACC member companies; and Communicate authentically with communities about challenges and solutions for a safer, healthier and more sustainable way of life. Our vision is a world made better by chemistry, where people live happier, healthier, and more prosperous lives, safely and sustainably—for generations to come.

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