September 26, 2023

Bill banning food additives headed to desk of California governor

A first-in-the-nation ban on four food additives will become law if signed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The California Food Safety Act passed the state Senate by a 33-3 vote on Sept. 12. It cleared the California State Assembly in May.

The bill bans the manufacture, sale or distribution of brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben and red dye No. 3.

A search of the Environmental Working Group’s Eat Well Guide returns nearly 3,000 products that use red dye No. 3 as an ingredient, including popular candies such as Skittles, Nerds and Trolli gummies. Photo: File

Brominated vegetable oil, used to keep citrus flavoring from separating in some beverages, has been linked to neurological changes, such as balance and memory problems. Potassium bromate, added to baked goods to help dough rise, has been linked to cancer and kidney damage in lab animals.

Propylparaben, used for antimicrobial food preservation, has been linked to hormonal dysregulation. Red dye No. 3, used to color many popular candies, is banned as a carcinogen in cosmetics and has been linked to behavioral problems in children.

An original version of the bill included a ban on titanium dioxide, used as a white pigment and to give a smooth texture to candies and other processed foods that has been linked to cancer in rodents and designated as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. That substance was not included in the bill passed by the Senate.

If signed, the law will take effort on Jan. 1, 2027, and carry fines of up to $10,000 for violations.

“Today’s bipartisan vote marks a huge step forward in our effort to protect children and families in California from dangerous and toxic chemicals in our food supply,” Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel, the bill sponsor, said in a statement. “It’s unacceptable that the U.S. is so far behind the rest of the world when it comes to food safety.”

The EU and other nations have prohibited the chemicals’ use in food, and manufacturers including Coke, Pepsi, Gatorade and Dunkin Donuts have stopped using the additives.

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