PARMA, ITALY — The European Food Safety Authority has updated its safety assessment on titanium dioxide, a food coloring, and no longer considers it safe as a food additive. The European Commission and countries in the European Union now will take the EFSA findings into account and decide whether to take regulatory actions.

“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,” said Maged Younes, chair of the EFSA’s panel on food additives and flavorings. “A critical element in reaching this conclusion is that we could not exclude genotoxicity concerns after consumption of titanium dioxide particles. After oral ingestion, the absorption of titanium dioxide particles is low. However, they can accumulate in the body.”

Genotoxicity refers to the ability of a chemical substance to damage DNA, according to the EFSA. Genotoxicity may lead to carcinogenic effects. Main food categories contributing to dietary exposure of titanium dioxide include soup, sauces, salads and savory-based sandwich spreads, according to the EFSA.

The US Food and Drug Administration considers titanium dioxide safe as a food ingredient, but it should not exceed 1% of a food’s weight.