A publication in the French consumer protection magazine 60 Millions de Consommateurs on the unlabelled presence of titanium dioxide (TiO2, food additive E171) nanoparticles in food products has reopened the debate around nanomaterials in food in France. Pursuant to the Regulation of the European Union on the provision of food information to consumers (1169/2011), food products containing ‘engineered nanomaterials’ must be labelled as such, with the mention ‘nano’ in brackets next to the name of the substance. This publication was followed by a letter to the French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe in which a group of NGOs asked for an immediate moratorium on TiO2 nanoparticles in food, better information for the consumer and traceability measures for nanomaterials and products containing them.
The French Government answered this letter and urged the National Agency for Food Safety, Environment and Labour (ANSES) to conclude its work on the safety of TiO2 nanoparticles and announced the intention to ask for the re-evaluation of the substance at EFSA and ECHA. In 2016, the re-evaluation of the substance by EFSA concluded that the E171 is not be considered a nanomaterial under the Recommendation on the Definition of a Nanomaterial, and did not identify safety concerns for this substance. The French Government also insists on the responsibility of industry to follow the regulatory obligations and announced the finalisation, by the General Directorate for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control, of a series of reliable measurement and analysis tools for the identification of engineered nanomaterials in foods and other products.