Titanium dioxide is a potentially harmful food coloring additive found in thousands of foods, where it makes foods look whiter and more opaque. As it is used solely for superficial purposes, and can potentially damage DNA, CSPI recommends avoiding titanium dioxide altogether. We’ve gathered a list of food products free of this additive—as well as a list of those that still use it—to help you shop.

What is titanium dioxide?

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is a chemical that is currently approved for use in the US as a color additive in foods and some other FDA-regulated products. The additive can be found on grocery store shelves in a wide range of food products. Titanium dioxide does not have a nutritional or preservative function, but instead is used solely for superficial purposes, adding a white color and brightness to foods and beverages.

According to a database from the US Department of Agriculture, titanium dioxide is currently used in about 13,000 brand-name food products. Titanium dioxide does not have to be listed by name on ingredient lists—instead, food companies can just call it “artificial color” or other similarly vague terms—meaning 13,000 products is an underestimate.

Why are public health groups calling for titanium dioxide to be banned in foods?

A safety evaluation by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) found that evidence suggests that when humans ingest food-grade titanium dioxide, small particles of titanium dioxide—or “nanoparticles”—can potentially accumulate in the human body over time and cause genetic damage. In turn, damage to DNA is one way that chemicals can cause cancer and other health problems. Accumulation of titanium dioxide nanoparticles in the body may also damage the immune and nervous systems.

Due to the possible negative health effects of ingesting titanium dioxide nanoparticles and the fact that this additive is totally unnecessary in food, CSPI’s Chemical Cuisine tool currently advises consumers to avoid food products containing this additive.

Despite warnings from public health watchdogs and studies identifying dangers associated with titanium dioxide nanoparticles, the FDA still allows the use of titanium dioxide in foods in the US. In the absence of federal action, proposals in some states seek to ban titanium dioxide and other dangerous food additives.

State-level proposals to ban titanium dioxide do not outlaw any specific food products, but instead prohibit the use of certain additives. Manufacturers would have time to adjust their food product recipes to respond to these new restrictions.

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Products that contain titanium dioxide, and alternatives without it

Since titanium dioxide is used solely to add whiteness or brightness to foods, manufacturers do not need to use it. In fact, for many brand-name food products that contain titanium dioxide, alternatives exist that are free of the chemical. That said, products free of titanium dioxide are not necessarily free of other harmful additives—nor are they necessarily healthy. Accordingly, any mention below of titanium dioxide-free alternatives does not constitute an endorsement of these brand-name products or an assertion that these products are healthy.

Read on for examples of US-sold products that have titanium dioxide, and alternatives that are titanium dioxide-free.

Macaroni and cheese

Wegmans states that its boxed Original Mac 'n Cheese does not contain any “artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.” However, the product does contain titanium dioxide, which is in fact an artificial color additive as defined by federal law. However, Kraft Original Mac & Cheese Macaroni and Cheese Dinner is free of titanium dioxide, indicating that mac ‘n’ cheese manufacturers do not need to use the additive.


Campbell’s uses titanium dioxide for added colors in its Healthy Request Chunky Chicken Corn Chowder Soup. However, Progresso Rich & Hearty Chicken Corn Chowder Flavored with Bacon, while containing other color additives, is free of titanium dioxide, suggesting that chowder can still be appetizing and visually appealing without the additive.


Although some pastry manufacturers use titanium dioxide for added colors, the additive is an unnecessary ingredient. While Cloverhill Cherry and Cheese Danish contains titanium dioxide, alternatives such as Hostess Danish, Berries & Cream Cheese and Favorite Day Strawberry Cheese Danish are free of the chemical.


Some manufacturers use titanium dioxide for coloring purposes in their packaged shredded cheeses. However, not all shredded cheeses contain the additive, meaning there are ample alternatives available to consumers. While Kraft Cheddar Fat Free Shredded Cheese contains titanium dioxide, Great Value Shredded Fat Free Mild Cheddar Cheese does not.


Some gravy products, such as Great Value Country Sausage Gravy, contain titanium dioxide. However, gravy alternatives, such as Cambell's Country Style Sausage Gravy and Chef-mate Country Sausage Gravy, do not contain the additive.

Kids’ meals

Sometimes, a company or brand may use titanium dioxide in certain products but not in others. For example, Lunchables Uploaded Meal Kit - Turkey Ham & American Sub Sandwich has the additive in it, while alternatives such as Lunchables Turkey & Cheddar Cheese with Crackers and Lunchables Ham & American Cheese are free of the additive. This is particularly concerning since many foods that contain titanium dioxide are specifically marketed toward children.

Snack mixes

Snack mixes like Tops Classic Trail Mix and Publix Trail Mix, Nut & Chocolate use titanium dioxide and other color additives for their multicolored milk chocolate candies. However, Giant Monster Trail Mix is free of the chemical, suggesting that it is not needed to make appetizing snack mixes.


Little Debbie Fudge Rounds use titanium dioxide for added color.  However, other brand-name soft cookie products, such as Oreo Cakesters Soft Snack Cakes, achieve eye-catching and consumer-friendly colors without the use of the chemical.

How you can protect yourself from titanium dioxide’s health risks

Although fully addressing titanium dioxide’s dangers will require policy change, you can protect your health and your family in the interim by following CSPI’s recommendation to avoid foods containing titanium dioxide. Be sure to read food labels carefully if you are unsure about whether a particular brand-name product contains the additive.

Additionally, you can support CSPI’s efforts to improve oversight of food additives so we can cultivate a food supply that is safer and more transparent.

Sign our Petition to Remove Harmful Additives from U.S. Food

Support CSPI today

As a nonprofit organization that takes no donations from industry or government, CSPI relies on the support of donors to continue our work in securing a safe, nutritious, and transparent food system. Every donation—no matter how small—helps CSPI continue improving food access, removing harmful additives, strengthening food safety, conducting and reviewing research, and reforming food labeling. 

Please support CSPI today, and consider contributing monthly. Thank you.


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