The state-level ban targets five potentially toxic chemicals already prohibited in Europe but still found in packaged foods in the United States.
A recently published study found that nearly 60% of packaged food bought by U.S. households contains artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. In addition, some additives, such as artificial sweeteners, have been linked to cardiovascular risks and anxiety-like behavior.
On February 2, California lawmakers introduced a food product safety bill that will ban the manufacture and sale of products that contain one or more of five potentially toxic food additives. Impacting California only, the proposed law is the first in the nation to bar these chemicals from the food supply.
California Assembly Bill 418 (AB418) focuses on five commonly used food additives — some of which are already banned in Europe.
- Red Dye No. 3
- Brominated vegetable oil
- Potassium bromate
- Titanium dioxide
These chemicals have been linked to several adverse health issues, such as cancer, behavioral issues in children, nervous system harm, and reproductive problems.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), nearly 3000 food products contain Red Dye No 3, including dozens of popular candies, popsicles, ice cream, and processed meat products. Products that contain brominated vegetable oil primarily include soft drinks — while potassium bromate is found in around 180 bread products and baked goods.
In addition, the EWG indicates that several baked goods and tortilla chip products contain propylparaben, and some condensed soups and cheese products have titanium dioxide listed in their ingredients.
In July 2022, a California man filed a lawsuit against Mars Inc. — the maker of Skittles — claiming the candy was 'unfit for human consumption.' However, the man voluntarily dismissed the case in November 2022.
If AB418 passes, the ban will take effect on January 1, 2025, removing Skittles and other popular candies like Pez and Sour Patch Kids from California’s store shelves. The ban will also impact condensed soups, chewing gum, and other packaged foods that contain one or more of the five targeted additives.
- LegiScan. California Assembly Bill 418.
- Environmental Working Group. Landmark bill would protect Californians from harmful additives in food and candy.
- Environmental Working Group. Products containing Red 3.
- Environmental Working Group. Products containing Potassium Bromate.
- Reuters. Lawsuit claiming Skittles are unfit to eat is dismissed.