California became the first state in the nation to ban four food additives found in cereal, soda, candy and popular drinks after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a ban on them Saturday.
California’s food safety law will ban the manufacture, sale or distribution of brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben and red dye No. 3, which could affect 12,000 products using these substances, according to the Environmental Working Group.
The legislation was commonly known as the “Skittles ban” because an earlier version also targeted titanium dioxide, used as a coloring in candies including Skittles, Starburst and Sour Patch Kids, according to the Environmental Working Group . But the measure, Assembly Bill 418, was amended in September to remove the substantive reference.
Rep. Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills), author of AB 418, hailed the decision as a “huge step in our efforts to protect California’s children and families from dangerous and toxic chemicals in our food supply”.
Gabriel said the bill would not ban any foods or products, but would require food companies to make “minor changes” to their recipes and switch to safer ingredients. The use of these chemicals has already been banned in the 27 countries of the European Union as well as many other countries due to scientific research linking them to cancer, reproductive problems and behavioral and health problems. development in children, Gabriel said.
But the National Confectioners Assn. blasted Newsom’s decision to sign the bill, saying it would undermine consumer confidence and create confusion around food safety. In a statement, the association said the law “replaces a uniform national food safety system with a patchwork of inconsistent state requirements created by legislative fiat that will increase food costs.”
“They make decisions based on soundbites rather than scientific data,” the statement said. “We should rely on the scientific rigor of the FDA in evaluating the safety of food ingredients and additives.”
Many major brands and manufacturers, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Gatorade and Panera, have voluntarily stopped using these additives due to concerns about their effects on human health.
Brominated vegetable oil was previously used in Mountain Dew, but Pepsi Co. has since stopped using it in the drink. However, it is still used in generic soda brands such as Walmart’s Great Value brand Mountain Lightning.
Propylparaben and potassium bromate are commonly found in baked goods.
Red No. 3 dye is used by Just Born Quality Confections to color Peeps marshmallow candies pink and purple, according to Consumer Reports.
“What we’re really trying to get them to do is change their recipes,” Gabriel told the Times in March. “Not all of these ingredients are essential.”
The law will take effect on January 1, 2027 and impose fines of up to $10,000 for violations.
“This is an important step in food security, and California is once again leading the nation,” said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, which co-sponsored the bill. with Consumer Reports.
The law could affect food nationwide, Cook said, because the size of California’s economy could incentivize manufacturers to produce a single version of their product rather than separate versions for the state and the rest of the country. nation.
A similar bill, which would ban the same four chemicals plus titanium dioxide, is working its way through committee in the New York Legislature.
The chemicals banned by the new state law have not been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration in 30 to 50 years, if ever, consumer advocates said.
But the FDA told The Times in May that it monitors and authorizes the use of food ingredients to ensure their safety.
“All substances contained in California House Bill 418 have been evaluated by the FDA,” the agency said in a statement. “When we identify new data and information indicating that the use of an ingredient is unsafe, we take action to protect public health, which may include revoking authorizations or approvals for certain uses, working with the industry on voluntary market phase-out agreements and recalls, issue alerts and inform consumers.
Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also endorsed the bill, calling it “common sense” in his daily Pump Club newsletter.