First-In-The-Nation Measure Would Prohibit the Use of Four Dangerous Chemicals Already Banned in the European Union and Other Nations
- Noah Marty
- Legislative/Communications Assistant
SACRAMENTO, CA — Today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed first-of-its-kind legislation to prohibit the use of four dangerous chemicals in processed foods and drinks sold in California. Authored by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino), Assembly Bill (AB) 418 – the California Food Safety Act – would prohibit the manufacture, sale, or distribution in California of any food product containing Red Dye No. 3, Potassium Bromate, Brominated Vegetable Oil, or Propyl Paraben. The use of these chemicals has already been banned in the 27 nations in the European Union (EU) as well as many other countries due to scientific research linking them to significant health harms, including cancer, reproductive issues, and behavioral and developmental issues in children.
“The Governor’s signature today represents a huge 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 food safety. This bill will not ban any foods or products – it simply will require food companies to make minor modifications to their recipes and switch to the safer alternative ingredients that they already use in Europe and so many other places around the globe.”
“Things like this aren’t partisan. They’re common sense,” said former Governor and sports and fitness icon Arnold Schwarzenegger, who endorsed AB 418 in his daily Pump Club Newsletter. “I’m a small government guy. But I’ve also seen that sometimes, in a world where every big industry has an army of lobbyists, and our kids have no one fighting for them, government has to step in.”
AB 418 would not ban any products; it would instead require companies to make modifications to products sold in California and likely prompt a nationwide transition to safer alternatives.
“AB 418 is the most important food safety bill in more than a decade and its passage is a historic victory for protecting kids and families from dangerous food chemicals,” said Scott Faber, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs at the Environmental Working Group. “For decades, chemical companies have been able to exploit a loophole that allows food additives to escape adequate review and oversight by the FDA. Since the FDA has failed to keep us safe, it has become the responsibility of states like California to step up and lead.”
“We’ve known for years that the toxic chemicals banned under California’s landmark new law pose serious risks to our health,” said Brian Ronholm, director of food policy for Consumer Reports. “California has taken an important stand for food safety at a time when the FDA has failed to take action. Safer versions of food products that are available in other countries should be made available to U.S. consumers, too. By keeping these dangerous chemicals out of food sold in the state, this groundbreaking law will protect Californians and encourage manufacturers to make food safer for everyone."
Background on AB 418
Due to major flaws with the FDA approval process – which has allowed close to 99 percent of food chemicals to escape meaningful, independent review by the FDA – the U.S. has become a global outlier in food safety. Notably, all the chemicals in AB 418 are already banned in the 27 nations in the EU and many have been banned in other countries such as Canada, the UK, Argentina, Brazil, Nigeria, Japan, South Korea, Peru, Sri Lanka, China, India, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Colombia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, etc.
Many major brands and manufacturers – including Coke, Pepsi, Gatorade, and Panera – have voluntarily stopped using the additives that would be banned under AB 418 because of concerns about their impact on human health. One of these chemicals – Red Dye No. 3 – is already banned by the FDA for use in cosmetics but is somehow still allowed in food.
AB 418 was amended in the State Senate to remove titanium dioxide from the list of banned additives and to delay implementation of the bill until 2027, thereby giving food companies more than enough time to negotiate new contracts and phase in new recipes.