The food additive E171 is banned in the EU and is found in more than 900 different types of foods. It was previously deemed safe by food watchdogs, but recent studies show alarming health risks. The European Commission has now banned the use of the food additive and is considering extending the ban to the rest of the world. The precautionary principle should be applied to food additives, but if there is a risk that the substance poses to human health, then the food companies should be required to remove it from the product.
The EFSA has set up an online database where consumers can search for the presence of E171 and check if they have it in them. E171 is an additive made of a nanoparticles of titanium dioxide. The EFSA defines this material as being at least 40% nano, and 60 percent micro. Until 20 January 2009, the additive was allowed to be used in EU food without restrictions.
The European Commission has not banned E171 in the UK or Scotland, but the UK and Scotland have banned it in a few countries. However, if you are worried about the safety of this food additive, you can check the label of the product to find out if it contains it. Some common food products containing titanium dioxide include Skittles, Jell-O, Starbursts, Sour Patch Kids, and Little Debbie baked goods.