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California Legislature Passes Bill to Ban Four Controversial Food Additives

Sept. 13, 2023
Assembly Bill 418 would ban red dye No. 3, potassium bromate, brominated vegetable oil and propylparaben if signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The legislature of the state of California has passed a bill to ban four food ingredients that have met with controversy and claims that they negatively impact human health over the years. The four ingredients banned in Assembly Bill 418 are red dye No. 3, potassium bromate, brominated vegetable oil and propylparaben.

The bill, which would go into effect in 2027 if Gov. Gavin Newsom signs it into law, would prohibit the sale of foods and drinks that contain any of the ingredients. If signed, it would be the first state law banning food additives deemed permissible by the FDA. The four ingredients are already banned for use in foods in the European Union and other nations around the world.

Red dye No. 3 — which gives many foods a bright red color — is already banned for use in cosmetics by the FDA, due to evidence that it causes cancer in lab animals in high doses, but it can still be used in food and medicines.

Potassium bromate is used in bakery applications to help dough rise and improve texture of those baked goods, has also seen studies linking it to causing cancer in lab animals.

Brominated vegetable oil is an emulsifier used in citrus drinks to maintain flavor consistency, and it has had links made between its use and behavioral and reproductive issues in lab animals.

Propylparaben is a preservative that has been claimed to mimic estrogen and thus acting as an endocrine disruptor.

Originally, the bill contained a fifth ingredient, titanium dioxide — but that additive was dropped because it didn’t have as much bipartisan support, according to a news report.

About the Author

Andy Hanacek | Senior Editor

Andy Hanacek has covered meat, poultry, bakery and snack foods as a B2B editor for nearly 20 years, and has toured hundreds of processing plants and food companies, sharing stories of innovation and technological advancement throughout the food supply chain. In 2018, he won a Folio:Eddie Award for his unique "From the Editor's Desk" video blogs, and he has brought home additional awards from Folio and ASBPE over the years. In addition, Hanacek led the Meat Industry Hall of Fame for several years and was vice president of communications for We R Food Safety, a food safety software and consulting company.

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