The Limited Market of Titanium Dioxide Replacements

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is widely used in a variety of confectionary applications to achieve a white shade or create a pastel color in panned confections, hard candies, gummies, licorice, pelleted gums and other sweet treats. The addition of a whitening agent like TiO2 is an especially critical step in panned confections. In order to make a panned piece appear more vibrant in color, the center of a panned piece is typically whitened right before a colorant is added.

Opaquer Center = Truer Display of Color Additive’s Shade


Under the Spotlight
TiO2 is an exempt from certification color additive and declared safe by the FDA if the quantity of titanium dioxide used in a product does not exceed 1% of the weight of the finished food.

However, according to Sensient research, consumers are most concerned about titanium dioxide and caramel after the artificial colors. The heightened awareness about TiO2 in food products began with California’s Proposition 65 but then inspired advocacy groups, like As You Sow, to start a dialogue over the government-approved food color. Dunkin’ Donuts added to this conversation with their public announcement to remove TiO2 from their powdered donuts back in March 2015. Then, Panera Bread placed titanium dioxide on their NO NO List. Now, a simple Google search yields results such as “Titanium Dioxide in Foods and Cosmetics May Cause Brain Harm” and “The Health Supplement Ingredient That Could Be Causing Cancer.”

The Limited Market
Most likely because of the limited amount of alternative opacifying options, TiO2 is still the most common solution for achieving a whitening effect in confections.

There are only three products on the market today:

Titanium Dioxide (TiO2)

  • A white color in powder or dispersion form permitted in the US
  • Originates from ilmenite mineral
  • Classified as an Exempt from Certification color

Calcium-Derived Colors or Calcium Carbonate (CaCo3):

  • Permitted as a colorant in the US (effective December 2017)
  • Derived from the alkaline earth metal of calcium
  • Classified as a color additive exempt from certification in select confection categories


  • White opacifying agent in powder or dispersion form
  • Only alternative to titanium dioxide in the US
  • Classified as a natural opacity agent
  • Clean label advantage

For food scientists, the ideal whitening agent would provide optimum whitening effect at a low usage rate. Color chemists continue to innovate confectionary solutions to meet the needs of consumer concern. Sensient’s commitment to research and development once led to our exciting launch of AvalancheTM, and our dedication has not stopped there.

Coming Soon
I am thrilled to announce two next-generation whitening innovations coming this fall. Stay tuned to our future blogs to learn more about these new options to replace titanium dioxide.

Our next generation line of white color solutions, Avalanche™ Xtra, delivers key technical advances in addition to cleaner labeling. Two new versions offer brighter, whiter alternatives to titanium dioxide and address a growing need in the marketplace.

Please feel free to reach out to me to discuss potential projects or advantages to replacing titanium dioxide in your confections.

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