The jury is still out on whether titanium dioxide is safe in food or not. Most think that it is, but I do not. When it is unsafe and questionable in so many other applications how can it be deemed safe enough to eat?
The dust from titanium dioxide clearly causes lung tumors in rats when inhaled. However, rats have highly sensitive lungs. There lungs are thought to be even more sensitive than humans. It has long been suggested that long term exposure to the dust of this compound during the manufacturing of foods is definitely not good for you. The finer the dust is, the more dangerous it is. However this pigment is used to give a brilliant white color to everything from foods to paints. And thus far, it has been given a pretty clean record for safety as far as actual consumption is concerned. The Canadian Centre for Health and Occupational Safety has classified it as a possible human carcinogenic. But again this evidence refers mainly to lung exposure, so unless you are snorting your frosty flakes, then as a consumer you are generally thought to be safe. If however, your daddy works at the frosty flakes plant and breaths this dust all day, you just might have a different opinion of how safe it is. Is our food worth sacrificing his health?
Other products that contain titanium dioxide include sun blocks. And this is another area where its use has become controversial. It is broken down much smaller for use in this product as well, which increases its potency and possibly its danger. Some suspect that it is at this smaller level it can more easily because cellular changes, and eventually cancer.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that Titanium Dioxide is ALL bad. I'm just not sold on its use in foods. Just because we can do something doesn't always mean we should. Call me crazy but I want the option of an all natural Oreo cookie with no added weird colors. What does the cream in an Oreo cookie look like before you add titanium dioxide anyway?
In some countries they have made a special mixture of titanium dioxide and concrete to pave the roads with as it helps to destroy smog. That's a great use. So long as it doesn't start breaking down one day and leave caustic dust everywhere.
In 2001 OSHA reported one of the years 20 occupational fatalities to be from inhalation of titanium dioxide. I know he wasn't eating it, but I still bet that guy doesn't think it's very safe either.
I am not sure why we use such questionable ingredients in this country. This appears to be one of the lesser evils however, at least for now. But personally, I would rather be safe than sorry.