The EU wrongly classified the whitening agent titanium dioxide in powder form as carcinogenic. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) declared a corresponding regulation by the EU Commission to be void on Wednesday. The judges in Luxembourg announced that the EU Commission had made an obvious error in assessing the reliability of the study on which the classification was based. The judgment can still be appealed to the ECJ.
Prohibited in food
Titanium dioxide is found, for example, in wall paint or sunscreen. The color pigment is suspected of being carcinogenic. Titanium dioxide has been banned in food since the beginning of the year. In 2019, the EU Commission decided that the substance in powder form should be classified as carcinogenic if inhaled. This did not ban titanium dioxide, but it did have to be accompanied by a warning. On the other hand, various manufacturers and dealers had sued.
The EU court has now ruled that such a classification must be based on reliable and recognized studies. That was not the case here. In addition, a substance may only be classified as carcinogenic if it actually has the “intrinsic property” of causing cancer.
Titanium dioxide should therefore be carcinogenic on its own. Here, on the other hand, according to the court, the risk of cancer only exists in connection with certain respirable titanium dioxide particles if they are present in a certain aggregate state, a certain shape, a certain size and a certain amount. This is therefore not sufficient for the classification as carcinogenic.