Alternative For Prohibited Food Additive TiO2

The discussion about the excipient titanium dioxide in the European food industry is already several years old. TiO2 was banned from food products in the EU and other countries since 2022 as being maybe carcinogenic . This even had consequences for the pharmaceutical industry. Several suppliers now offer alternatives to TiO2 in tablet coatings.

Now a Swiss startup has developed a plant-based solution for white colour pigment that can be used also as a food additive.

A plant-based alternative to TiO2

Seprifya spin-out from the University of Fribourg and University of Cambridge, has taken up the challenge and is setting up an initial pilot facility in Switzerland to develop an alternative based on plant cellulose. Cellulose is the main constituent of plants and is extracted from biomass and turned into high value ingredients. As well as being 100% natural, this cellulose powder has another advantage, explains the director of the start-up:

Obtaining white in a preparation is not difficult. What is difficult is achieving it with very thin layers and very little material. We have found a solution.

Lukas Schertel, CEO Seprify

Inspiration from nature

The inspiration for the new material, explains the start-up in a media article, comes from nature: a genus of beetles called Cyphochilus with unusually bright white scales that cover the whole exoskeleton. Using the beetle scales as inspiration, the Seprify team sought to find a similar fibrous structure to create white colour, which they identified in cellulose.


Pilot production line soon up and running

The Swiss start-up announced a CHF 2 million grant from Innosuisse in December 2023.  With the new funds, they aim to conclude the pilot production line in Marly, Switzerland, expand the team, and accelerate the work with partners on market entry. According to a statement, after an initial focus on the food, pharma and cosmetic sectors, the plant cellulose will also be used in a wide range of formulations in paint, coatings and inks. In these sectors, the process has the potential to save millions of tonnes of CO2 emissions at scale.

Read the original article at

1. Swisstech, website Alternative for prohibited food additives | swisstech, JANUARY 26TH, 2024,
2. Website of Seprify

Read more articles on Titanium Dioxide – TiO2  here:

Calcium carbonate as a replacement for titanium dioxide in coating
Calcium carbonate as a replacement for titanium dioxide in coating
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