California lawmakers plan to ban food additives found in candies like Skittles, Sour Patch Kids and some baked goods in the United States.
Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel, who represents part of Los Angeles, introduced AB418 last month in an effort to curb the use of five common food additives linked to cancer, DNA and organ damage.
Of the five additives that would be included in the ban, three (brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate and titanium dioxide) are banned in the EU. One, Red 3 dye, is banned for use in cosmetic products in the United States.
If the bill becomes law, the foods that include them will have to change their formula or they will not be allowed to be sold in the most populous state in the United States.
Foods that could be affected include other candies such as jelly beans, PEZ candy, Trident sugar free gum, Campbell’s soup, and smaller brands of bread from across the United States.
“Californians shouldn’t have to worry that the food they buy at their neighborhood grocery store might be full of dangerous additives or toxic chemicals,” Asm Gabriel said in a statement.
‘This bill will correct a troubling lack of federal oversight and help protect our children, public health and the safety of our food supply.’
The bill, which he co-introduced with Democratic co-sponsor Asm Buffy Wicks, targets five additives in particular, which also includes propylparaben.
Asm Gabriel told DailyMail.com that “the aim of the bill is to protect children and their parents from harmful chemicals.”
If signed into law, the bill would also prevent the manufacture of food products containing these chemicals in the state, even if they are sold elsewhere.
While the state assembly only cares about California issues, asm Gabriel sees the new regulations as having a national impact.
“The idea here is for (companies) to change their recipes,” he explained, saying he doesn’t expect many companies to abandon the large California market.
Asm Jesse Gabriel (pictured) introduced the bill last month. He hopes to ‘protect’ families in California by banning these potentially harmful substances
But, if they change their products for California, it is likely that they will make the change nationally.
“It’s unlikely that they have one prescription in California and one in Oklahoma.”
He said the five chemicals were specifically identified because each one is already banned in food products in the EU.
Titanium dioxide is the most notable of the group.
The additive was at the center of a 2022 lawsuit filed in the Golden State last year alleging that the popular Skittles candies were edible.
The natural powder is used to prevent products from caking and is often used as a colorant.
It has been approved as an additive by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), although activists want the agency to review the 1966 decision.
Calls for the additive to be banned come as more research shows the potential dangers of the food.
A German review of previous research published in 2015 found that titanium dioxide could accumulate in a person’s bloodstream, kidneys, liver, and spleen.
In 2017, French researchers found this accumulation it could put people at risk of intestinal inflammation, immune system damage, and even cancer.
The plaintiffs in the California case allege that Mars, which makes Skittles, continues to sell the product despite admit the dangers of the additive in 2016.
The additive was banned in food products in the EU last year, with regulators citing the same concerns.
‘Why are these toxic chemicals in our food?’ Susan Little, of the consumer advocacy organization Environment Working Group, said.
We know that they are harmful and that children are likely to consume more of these chemicals than adults. It doesn’t make sense that the same products that are sold by food manufacturers in California are being sold in the EU but without these toxic chemicals.”
The food is also listed as an ingredient in many Campbell’s soup products, sauces made by Old El Paso, and other sweets and baked goods.
Another specific additive is Red 3, a food coloring included in many candies and other sweets.
Since the early 1980s, studies have shown that the additive can cause cancer in laboratory animals at very high doses, and it has been linked to behavioral problems in children.
It was banned from cosmetic products in 1990 for these reasons, but it remains in many foods and sweets, including pastries and breakfast cereals.
A pair of 2016 studies found that Red 3 is found in more than one in 10 candy bars in the US, and more than 80 percent of children under the age of two had consumed it in the past two weeks.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a Washington DC-based consumer advocacy group, petitioned the FDA to ban the chemical last year.
TO 2012 study of Brazilian researchers found that Red 3 could cause genotoxicity, when DNA suffers toxic damage, and also cause permanent transmissible changes in strains.
In 2020, the California Environmental Protection Agency found children who consumed Red 3 regularly were more likely to suffer from hyperactivity and inattention.
TO 2016 study Led by researchers at the University of North Carolina, Asheville found that the dye was used in 11.1 percent of candy products.
It was also found in 3.3 percent of cakes, 2.6 percent of fruit snacks and 2.6 percent of cakes marketed to children.
Brominated vegetable oil is a plant-derived substance used to blend the elements of citrus-flavored soft drinks.
Long-term exposure to the chemical can damage the body’s central nervous system. It has been linked to the development of chronic headaches, memory loss, and balance problems.
It was previously used in the popular Mountain Dew soft drink, until parent company Pepsi removed the ingredient in 2020.
Sun Drop, a similar-tasting soft drink made by Keurig Dr Pepper, still uses it.
Many other store-brand and inexpensive versions of Mountain Dew and Sprite sold across the country also use the chemical.
It has been banned as an additive in the EU, India and Japan. Its use in the US is limited to citrus drinks only, where it is exceptionally capable of mixing different elements.
Propylparaben is often used in baked goods as a preservative, as the substance derived from some plants and insects has antimicrobial and antifungal properties.
Some highly processed pre-made baked goods include it. The Weight Watchers-endorsed line of desserts, aimed at people trying to lose weight, are among the culprits.
The additive has been linked to fertility problems in mice, with previous research showing it could reduce sperm count in males and disrupt estrogen development in females.
Some experts fear that it could cause similar damage to the endocrine system of humans.
Despite this, the FDA still considers propylparaben to be ‘generally recognized as safe’.
Potassium bromate is also found in many baked goods, including the popular Balducci’s brand of sugar cookies.
It is banned in the EU, Canada and Brazil, among others, due to its links to the development of thyroid and kidney cancer.
It is often used in processed foods to make dough rise more.