New York Officials Push for Ban on Cancer-Linked Ingredients in Processed Foods

New York state legislators, led by State Senator Brian Kavanagh and Assembly Member Dr. Anna Kelles, have introduced two bills aimed at banning seven food additives associated with cancer and behavioral problems.

The proposed legislation, A6424A and S6055B, targets widely used ingredients such as red dye No.

3, propylparaben, brominated vegetable oil (BVO), potassium bromate, titanium dioxide, azodicarbonamide, and BHA, commonly found in processed foods like candy, cereal, sodas, and bread.

Banning and Transparency Legislation

The first bill, A6424A, seeks to eliminate the specified ingredients within New York state, while the second bill, S6055B, requires companies to notify the state when introducing chemicals into food without FDA review.

Senator Kavanagh emphasizes the need for New Yorkers to have the highest food safety protection, citing significant health risks posed by these additives.

The proposed legislation follows California’s earlier ban on similar ingredients, known as the ‘Skittles ban.’

Health Experts and Environmental Advocates Support Legislation

Medical experts, including pediatricians, voice their support for the bills, highlighting concerns about the inadequacy of FDA protection regarding these additives.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit focused on environmental health and food additives, praises the proposed legislation for increasing transparency and banning chemicals commonly found in foods.

Jessica Hernandez, policy director at EWG, stresses the importance of state initiatives to ensure food safety.

Overview of Banned Ingredients and Health Risks

The seven additives targeted by the proposed legislation are prevalent in ultraprocessed foods and have been linked to various medical issues.

Brominated vegetable oil (BVO), found in sodas, has been associated with harm to the nervous system, chronic headaches, memory loss, and impaired balance. Titanium dioxide, present in candies, can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. Red dye No. 3, responsible for bright colors in candies, has been linked to cancer and behavioral issues in children.

Potentially Harmful Ingredients in Food and Global Comparisons

Potassium bromate, commonly used in bread, has been banned in several countries due to its health impact.

Propylparaben, found in water-based cosmetics and as a food additive, is associated with endocrine disruption and reproductive issues.

Azodicarbonamide, used as a whitening agent in flour and dough, is banned in Europe and Australia. BHA, a preservative, is considered a carcinogen and associated with the underdevelopment of the reproductive system.

Statements from Legislators and Medical Professionals

Dr. Anna Kelles, a nutritional epidemiologist, emphasizes the profound scientific evidence supporting the harm caused by these chemicals.

She questions the necessity of these additives, stating alternatives are available.

The second bill is crucial for transparency, requiring companies to disclose information about introduced chemicals. Dr. Charles Moon, a pediatrician, urges the swift passage of the bills to protect child development.

Criticism and Industry Response

Despite support, the bills face criticism from the National Confectioners Association, representing candy companies.

The association argues that FDA’s expertise should guide regulatory decisions and cautions against creating inconsistent state-by-state requirements.

Critics claim there is no plausible basis for the proposed ban on FDA-approved food additives and warn against undermining consumer trust in the food system.

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