Custard donut missing a bite, revealing the filling

Titanium dioxide replacement: The opacifying power of rice

With the EU ban on titanium dioxide expected to come into force in 2022, which alternatives are worth considering? Rice is a good place to start.

Reformulation push

The industry has long been aware that the days of using titanium dioxide (E171) are numbered. Identified as an additive of concern by the EU’s safety re-evaluation programme, it has been the subject of scrutiny since 2016. So EFSA’s recently published conclusion that “titanium dioxide can no longer be considered safe as a food additive” should come as no surprise. But it has raised the stakes. 

The fallout from the formal announcement has also underlined what many already knew; replacing the unique properties of this colouring agent is a complex technical challenge. 

Relevance of rice

One of the most important characteristics of titanium dioxide is its heat stable opacity and bright white colour; properties which are particularly appealing when it come to maximising a product’s visual appeal. From chocolate, vegan cheese, to bakery and pastry fillings, titanium dioxide has lent itself to an impressively wide range of applications. 

For formulators tasked with finding alternatives, this multi-faceted role means that there is no one-size-fits-all replacement. Different options must be explored for every product.

One approach that is proven to be highly effective in certain applications is the use of our rice starches and rice flours. Not only do these carbohydrate-based ingredients successfully replicate the opacity of titanium dioxide, they also score highly in terms of consumer acceptance. 

Cost concerns

Does reformulating with alternatives cost more? Yes most probably, as it takes multiple times higher dosage and adjusted productions processes to replicate the full effect of titanium dioxide. But that shouldn’t necessarily create a barrier. 

Our research found that consumers are willing to pay more for a clean label product. It also revealed that 70% don’t want to see titanium dioxide listed on-pack. So these factors alone should help to build confidence and show that a reformulation strategy is worth exploring.

Steady progress

The good news is that we already know that our rice starch and rice flour portfolio delivers positive results in chewing gum, coated confectionary and low-fat dairy. And we’re working towards developing options to replace titanium dioxide in more applications than ever before. 

If you would a more in-depth perspective on titanium dioxide replacement, you can read our recent interview with

To find out whether we have a replacement solution for you, please do get in-touch. We’d be delighted to help.