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Legislation Banning Dangerous Food Additives Clears Final Policy Committee in the California State Legislature

For immediate release:


SACRAMENTO, CA — Today, first-of-its-kind legislation to prohibit the use of five dangerous and toxic chemicals in processed foods and drinks sold in California cleared its final policy committee, passing out of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee by a 5 to 1 vote. Authored by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino), 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. The use of these chemicals has already been banned in the European Union (EU) and many other jurisdictions due to scientific research linking them to significant health harms, including cancer, reproductive issues, and behavioral and developmental issues in children. 

“Today’s strong vote out of our final policy committee marks a major step forward in our effort to protect children and families in California from dangerous and toxic chemicals in our food supply,” said Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel. “It’s unacceptable that the U.S. is so far behind the rest of the world when it comes to banning these dangerous additives. We don’t love our children any less than they do in Europe and it’s not too much to ask food and beverage manufacturers to switch to the safer alternative ingredients that they already use in so many other nations around the globe.”

Numerous scientific studies have linked these chemicals to significant health harms, including increased risk of cancer, behavioral issues in children, harm to the reproductive system, and damage to the immune system. As a result, the EU and many other nations, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, and Japan, already have prohibited their use in food. Additionally, many major brands and manufacturers, including Coke, Pepsi, Gatorade, Dunkin Donuts, Papa John’s Pizza, and Panera, have voluntarily stopped using these additives in their products. 

AB 418 will not remove any products from the shelves, nor will it ban any product that California consumers currently enjoy. Products like Skittles continue to be sold in stores across Europe using safe alternatives.

“For decades, the FDA has failed to keep us safe from toxic food chemicals,” said Scott Faber, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs at the Environmental Working Group. “The chemical companies keep exploiting a loophole that allows for food additives that have not been adequately reviewed for safety by the FDA. And the FDA consistently fails to reassess chemicals, even in light of new science. The food and confectioners industries know the review process at the FDA is broken.”

AB 418 is needed because chemical companies in the U.S. have been able to exploit a major loophole and avoid meaningful independent review by the FDA of numerous food additives, thereby placing the U.S. far behind many other nations when it comes to food safety. If signed into law, AB 418 would require companies to make modifications to the recipes for products sold in California and could prompt a nationwide transition to safer alternatives.

AB 418 is expected to be considered in the Senate Appropriations Committee in August following the Legislature’s summer recess.