CHICAGO – Product developers in the late 1980s into the 1990s working on fat-free foods and beverages often turned to titanium dioxide to replace the white color associated with the absence of creamy milkfat. The ingredient was approved as a color by the Food and Drug Administration in 1966, and until the fat-free craze, it was mostly used to provide opacity to candies, baked foods and frostings/fillings.

In the European Union, titanium dioxide (E 171) was authorized as a food additive in 2008. Eight years later, its safety started being questioned, and on May 6, 2021, the European Food Safety Authority said it no longer considers titanium dioxide safe as a food additive.

Titanium dioxide’s origins are unique for the food coloring space, where FDA limits its use to not exceed 1% of a food’s weight. It is made from titanium, the ninth most common element in the Earth’s crust. Titanium is classified as a transition metal on the…

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