France is to suspend a widely used food additive found in sweets, pastries and even bread by the end of the year, after studies suggested it may cause cancer.
Titanium dioxide is used mainly as a whitening and brightening agent in candies, chewing gum, white sauces and cake icing, is known as the artificial colour E171 on food labels.
It is also used in sunscreens because of the molecule's ability to reflect ultra-violet rays.
“We want to suspend the use of this substance as a food additive in France by the end of the year,” said Brune Poirson, a junior minister in environmental ministry.
France has asked the European Commission to take similar measures given that titanium dioxide is susceptible to pose a serious risk for human health”, he added.
The Commission said it had received such a request in February and had asked the European Food and Safety Authority to examine four new French studies before deciding whether to take further measures. EFSA will announce its findings by the summer.
Critics say titanium dioxide serves no nutritional purpose, does not increase products' shelf life, and may pose a risk to humans since the nano-particles may be able to pass through protective walls of organs such as the liver, lungs or intestines.