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Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel Introduces First in the Nation Legislation to Ban the Sale of Processed Foods Containing Dangerous Chemicals

Legislation Would Protect Children and Families by Prohibiting the Manufacture, Sale, and Distribution of Foods Containing Certain Toxic Chemicals that Are Already Banned in the European Union

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO, CA — Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D - Woodland Hills) has introduced legislation that would ban the sale of processed foods in California that contain certain dangerous and toxic chemicals. A first-of-its-kind measure, Assembly Bill (AB) 418 would prohibit the manufacture, sale, or distribution of any food product in California containing Red Dye No. 3, Titanium Dioxide, Potassium Bromate, Brominated Vegetable Oil, or Propyl Paraben. Each of these chemicals is currently banned in the European Union (EU) due to scientific studies that have demonstrated significant public health harms, including increased risk of cancer, behavioral issues in children, harm to the reproductive system, and damage to the immune system.

“Californians shouldn’t have to worry that the food they buy in their neighborhood grocery store might be full of dangerous additives or toxic chemicals,” said Assemblymember Gabriel, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection. “This bill will correct for a concerning lack of federal oversight and help protect our kids, public health, and the safety of our food supply.”

“Why are these toxic chemicals in our food?” said Susan Little, the Environmental Working Group’s Governmental Affairs Senior Advocate for California. “We know they are harmful and that children are likely eating more of these chemicals than adults. It makes no sense that the same products food manufacturers sell in California are sold in the EU but without these toxic chemicals. We thank Assemblymember Gabriel’s efforts to remove these toxic additives from California’s food supply.”

Currently, there are thousands of chemicals added to food to make it last longer, taste better, and appear more enticing. Shockingly, most of these chemicals have never been independently evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or were last reviewed decades ago. Instead, these chemicals have entered the nation’s food supply through a loophole in federal law—known as GRAS, or "generally recognized as safe”—that was intended to apply to common household ingredients like vinegar. As a result of this loophole, chemical companies have added new substances to the food supply with almost no meaningful federal oversight. 

Many of the dangerous additives currently banned in the EU and other nations are found in processed foods and candies that are marketed to children, low-income consumers, and communities of color in the United States.

If enacted, AB 418 would make California the first state in the nation to ban the use of these dangerous chemicals in processed foods. The measure is expected to be heard in committee in the coming weeks.