California lawmakers are seeking to ban the use of 5 common food additives: titanium dioxide, red dye No. 3, brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, and propylparaben. This would prohibit food manufactures from using any of these ingredients in their products. Two California Assembly committees have already passed the bill, and if it is enacted into law it will take effect January 1st, 2025.
The controversy over titanium dioxide stems from potential health risks associated with inhalation, consumption, and topical use of products containing titanium dioxide. Animal studies have shown the titanium dioxide is a potential carcinogen for humans due to genotoxic reactions. The FDA first approved titanium dioxide as a good additive in 1966, and since then it has become a commonly used additive in a selection of food products, cosmetics, and pet foods.
Titanium dioxide is used in Skittles, which is at the forerunner of this debate, but it is also used in coffee creamers, sunscreens, cosmetics, paints, salad dressings, chocolate, chewing gum, sauces, and more. This poses an issue for food manufacturers as they will need to reformulate their products to find quality alternatives. Titanium dioxide is used as a whitening agent due to its effectiveness, affordability, and absorption rate. Few replacements exist, however, calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate, and modified starches are prospective alternatives.
Calcium carbonate is a naturally occurring mineral commonly used as an ingredient in food and beverage applications. It is commonly used as a calcium supplement, pH regulator, antacid, and colorant. Calcium carbonate is a viable replacement for titanium dioxide in many formulations due to its ability to improve brightness, opacity, and color receptivity in food products.
Calcium phosphate is another mineral, similar to calcium carbonate, that serves a variety of applications in food and beverage manufacturing. Traditionally, it is used as an anti-caking agent, pH buffer, bleaching agent, calcium supplement, and whitening agent. Calcium phosphate is a potential substitute for titanium dioxide due to its stability, leavening properties, role as a filming agent, whitening properties, and versatility.
Modified Starches – Rice or corn
Widely available and cost effective, modified starches are becoming highly sought after alternatives. Rice starch is commonly used as a cosmetic dusting powder, a sweetener, texture stabilizer, film former, glazing agent, adhesive, and gelling agent. It is quickly rising as an effective natural replacement for titanium dioxide due to its ability to increase the opacity of products, improve the brightness, and stabilize color receptivity.
Do your products contain titanium dioxide? Contact an AIFI ingredient expert to discuss reformulation options and availability.
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