California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill Saturday making four popular food additives illegal in the state, including controversial red dye No. 2. 3. The EU has banned it.
The dye is found in Skittles, PediaSure and other products marketed to children, as well as non-red foods like mashed potatoes and rice, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Now, under new California food safety laws, it has been banned. The law bans the production, sale or distribution of foods containing dyes and three other popular additives: potassium bromate, brominated vegetable oils and propyl paraben.
In a letter about the bill, Governor Newsom highlighted how Skittles can be sold in the EU with ingredients that comply with its ban, writing: “There are many misunderstandings about this bill and its implications. For example , the message came with a bag of popular sweets Skittles, which became the face of the proposal. This particular bag of sweets comes from the European Union – which has banned the use of many chemical additives and colorants. This is something the food industry has Demonstrable evidence of ability to maintain product lines while complying with public health laws that vary from country to country.”
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Red dye number 3 has been linked to thyroid cancer and was banned from use in cosmetics in the United States in 1990, according to Consumer Reports, which co-sponsored the bill with the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.
“The FDA says it’s not safe enough to put on the cheek, but is it OK to put in the mouth?” Lisa Lefferts, a scientist and consultant at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told Science magazine: Washington post.
Potassium bromate, also banned, is “an excellent dough conditioner and ripening agent,” according to the National Institutes of Health. However, it is a “possible carcinogen”. CBS News notes that the European Union, India and China have also banned the drug.
The bill also bans the use of brominated vegetable oil; it is added to some drinks to prevent citrus flavors from separating and is banned in the EU.
Propyl paraben is used in antimicrobial food preservation, but the Environmental Working Group says it mimics estrogen and can disrupt the endocrine system.
While the National Confectioners Association condemned the bill in a statement, calling it a “slippery slope” that could “create food safety chaos” and “increase food costs,” Newsom noted in his letter that “implementation of the bill will Delayed to 2027 – an important time for brands to modify their formulations to avoid these harmful chemicals.”