Californian Bill Aims to Ban Harmful Chemicals in Food
A bill in California, known as A.B.418, which seeks to prohibit the use of four chemicals in food products due to their links to cancer, disease, and mood problems, has advanced to the Governor’s desk for potential signature. The state legislature voted in favor of this legislation, which could impact products like Skittles and Pez. The chemicals targeted by the bill are brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben, and Red Dye No.3, which would be eliminated from California’s food supply if the bill becomes law.
Legislation Details and Timeline
Introduced by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, the bill received strong support, passing a senate vote with a 33-3 majority on Monday and a final procedural vote in the Assembly on Tuesday. The bill now awaits Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision, with a deadline for signing or vetoing by October 14. If signed into law, it would take effect on January 1, 2027, and impose fines of up to $10,000 for the sale, manufacture, or distribution of these chemicals in California.
Aims to Improve Food Safety
Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel expressed the bill’s intent to bring about “minor modifications” to the recipes of products like Skittles rather than an outright ban. He emphasized the goal of enhancing food safety, particularly for children and families, and highlighted the need for the U.S. to catch up with international food safety standards. Gabriel’s focus is on reforming the recipes of such products.
Concerns About Harmful Chemicals
Red No.3, a food dye used in many candies, has been linked to cancer in laboratory animals at high doses and behavioral issues in children. Despite being banned from cosmetic products in the U.S. in the 1990s, it continues to be used in food products. Other chemicals targeted by the bill, such as brominated vegetable oil, propylparaben, and potassium bromate, have also raised health concerns. Brominated vegetable oil, used for citrus flavoring, has been associated with nervous system harm and other health issues. Propylparaben, often used as a preservative, has been linked to fertility problems in mice. Potassium bromate, found in baked goods, has been linked to thyroid and kidney cancers.
Industry Response and Support for the Bill
In response to the Californian ban proposal, industry stakeholders argued that the bill preempted ongoing reviews of the additives’ safety through existing measures. Organizations including the National Confectioners Association, California Grocers Association, and the American Chemistry Council raised objections. Consumer Reports’ Director of Food Policy, Brian Ronholm, commended state lawmakers for their efforts to ban these chemicals, emphasizing the importance of protecting the public from substances shown to have health risks.
Call for Action
The bill represents an effort to enhance food safety and reduce the presence of potentially harmful chemicals in the food supply. The Governor’s decision on whether to sign or veto the bill will determine its fate and its potential impact on the food industry and consumer safety in California.