California Bans Controversial Food Additives

Red dye No. 3, potassium bromate, brominated vegetable oil, propylparaben are targeted
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2023 1:00 AM CDT
California Bans Controversial Food Additives
FILE - Marshmallow Peeps candy is on display at a store in Lafayette, Calif., on March 24, 2023.   (AP Photo/Haven Daley, File)

California became the first state in the nation to ban four controversial food additives when Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday signed a law targeting red dye No. 3, potassium bromate, brominated vegetable oil, and propylparaben. The chemicals have been found to be potentially harmful, and as of 2027 when the bill is implemented, no food products containing any of those ingredients will be allowed to be sold, manufactured, or distributed in the state, CNN reports. While KTLA reports that at least one candy-based lobbying group was slamming the move as one that will create "a patchwork of inconsistent state requirements" rather than "a uniform national food safety system," Newsom said he's simply taking "a positive step forward on these four food additives until the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviews and establishes national updated safety levels for these additives."

And, as Consumer Reports theorizes, it's likely the changes made as a result of the California law will ripple across the nation anyway, since manufacturers aren't likely to make two different versions of their products, one with and one without the banned additives—which are included in such popular products as marshmallow Peeps, Hot Tamales candies, and certain types of gum. While the European Union and other countries have already banned the chemicals, a loophole in the FDA's Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act that's known as the Generally Recognized as Safe rule allows them to continue to be used in the US in a way or amount previously determined to be safe by the FDA. As USA Today explains, the law was once known as the "Skittles ban" when a fifth chemical, used in Skittles, was also included, but it was left out of the final version. (More California stories.)

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