Dangers of Additive E171

The food additive known as E171, which contains titanium dioxide, is used today around the world to whiten food products. This additive, which enhances color and brightness, is found in many products that we use every day, from toothpaste to baking powder. The harmful effects of E171, which is present in our diets, personal care cabinets, and most importantly, in our bodies at the end of the day, are slowly beginning to be understood. While no one has spoken out against this food additive until now, the European Union has announced that they will ban the use of this substance, which they referred to as a “hidden danger,” last year. So, what are the long-term effects of this additive that we all consume every day? E171 is not found naturally in nature. This additive, which is the oxidized form of titanium, is produced through iron titanium dioxide ore. The main purpose of titanium dioxide is to whiten food products and enhance their brightness, but this additive is also used to extend the shelf life of products due to its moisture-absorbing properties. Additionally, the color of this additive never fades, regardless of how much UV light it is exposed to. While the terms titanium dioxide or E171 may seem unfamiliar to you, you’ll be surprised to learn how frequently this additive is consumed in our daily lives. It is found in dozens of products, including toothpaste, gum, white chocolate, flour, candy, shaving cream, shampoo, sunscreen, chickpeas, paint, sauces, and bakery products. In other words, whether we’re aware of it or not, E171 is a chemical that we take into our bodies unintentionally at all times of the day. The biggest reason for the concern of the scientific community regarding E171 is the tests conducted on animals. So far, research conducted primarily on mice has shown that E171 cannot be eliminated from the body, and this additive damages the DNA structure in the long run. Additionally, E171, due to its moisture-absorbing properties, disrupts the body’s water balance over time, causing damage to the body. Now, the most important part of the issue. Research conducted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on E171 shows that this additive does not pose any problems when used in the food industry. In other words, according to this research, E171 does not harm the human body through oral consumption or skin contact. The real problem for humans starts when they inhale E171 used in industrial products. In other words, consuming E171 in food products such as gum, flour, or candy seems to have no harm. Or, more accurately, there is no solid scientific evidence to date that consuming E171 leads to cancer. This is because all research conducted so far has been limited to animal studies. In other words, more scientific research needs to be conducted on humans to prove that E171 used in the food industry is harmful. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified titanium dioxide as 2B, meaning it may be carcinogenic to humans. However, the reason why E171 is in this category is due to the type used in industrial products. Eric Houdeau, a scientist at the French Public Research Institute (INRAE), proved in a study conducted on animals a few years ago that E171 can reach the fetus from the mother’s womb. This research conducted on mice showed that E171 negatively affects fetal development, but since the same test has not been conducted on humans, it falls short of proving that E171 can be harmful to humans as well. In fact, Hodeau, speaking on a radio program about the negative effects of E171 on humans, warned that caution should be exercised, saying, “It is impossible to say that the results of studies conducted on animals will yield the same results in humans.” France, which does not want to remain silent about the results of research conducted on E171, became the first country to ban the use of E171 in food products in 2020. Under the new law, the use of food products with the E171 code in France has been completely banned since 2020. The European Union is also preparing to ban E171 in the food industry in the same way. Stella Kyriakides, responsible for health and food safety in the European Commission, announced that if there are no objections from the European Parliament (EP) and the EU Council, the use of E171 in the food industry will be banned from 2022.

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