Saturday, 18 July 2015

10 things you're eating that contain Titanium Dioxide

Earlier this year, I remember reading about Dunkin' Donuts deciding to remove titanium dioxide from their donuts. It was after pressure from consumers and As You Sow, a non-profit organisation that promotes corporate social responsibility.
This was in America, interestingly this ingredients isn't included in the UK version of their powdered donut recipe. Which is nice. But, to be fair, it was food grade you guys.

Just to be clear, in a nutshell, the issue was that the food contained titanium dioxide nano particles, the safety of which has not been tested for human consumption and requires no food labelling requirements in the US.
My issue was that food actually contained titanium dioxide, which is actually used widely as an:
  • anti-caking agent
  • whitener
  • thickener, and
  • to add texture

This chemical can be found in paper, plastics, paint, rubber, automotive products, roofing materials etc. Okay, that makes sense. But does this?

Titanium dioxide can also be found in:

  • white chocolate
  • marshmallows
  • vanilla pudding 
  • chewing gum
  • frosting
  • lemon curd
  • a popular soy milk I used to drink years ago
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • in skimmed milk, which without the fat is actually a slight blue...
  • sauces

Obviously not all companies and manufacturers use titanium dioxide in their chocolate, gum, milk et cetera

 Photoby Ginny licensed under CC BY SA 2.0 

I thought it was interesting that TiO2 is usually listed in ingredient lists as E121 or 121, as a colour (how clever), so it's use usually goes undetected and is widely accepted.

Here are some non-food products containing titanium dioxide:
  • vitamins, as a filler
  • toothpaste, to add an abrasive texture
  • face mask I actually used and reviewed on the blog
  • tattoo pigment
  • sunscreen, as an active UV absorbing ingredient

This is just one additive out of the many that are used to make our food look or feel a certain way. It's purely used for aesthetic reasons; to make product look more appealing, thicker, whiter... profitable.

When did we stop eating actual food made from natural ingredients, and start eating their strange food-like counterparts?

Is it not weird that we would paint our walls with something that contains the same ingredient as the hot chocolate with marshmallows we would have later that night?

I'd say titanium dioxide is mild in comparison to the downright grotesque concoctions passing as colours and additives today.

Photo^ "devil's food cupcakes with white chocolate cream cheese frosting"


Alex Weir, Natalie von Goetz. 'Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles In Food And Personal Care Products'. Environmental science & technology 46.4 (2012): 2242.

Goff, Douglas (2010). "Dairy Chemistry and Physics"Dairy Science and Technology. University of Guelph


  1. I love informative posts. Thank you for writing such a well thought out and balanced post. I feel very strongly that our relationship with food has become disconnected from the ingredients that go into our meals. Baking/cooking from scratch, farmers markets, veg box schemes etc are all helping to reconnect us to where our food comes from and quality is ALWAYS more important that cost or quantity. Really great post. Sammie

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment Sammie. I completely agree, there is a huge disconnect about where our food comes from, especially when it comes to packaged and 'fast food'. I think we are all somewhat conditioned to think we can trust the regulators and food industry, that everything in our food is safe.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...