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The iconic PEEP marshmallow could soon look very different after its maker announced it would remove a harmful dye that gives the candy its striking color.
Pennsylvania-based Just Born became the first company to announce changes to its ingredient list after California passed a law banning several potentially carcinogenic ingredients, including a food coloring additive.
After Easter 2024, Just Born will no longer use red dye number 3 in any of its products, the company said in a statement.
In a study evaluating the health impacts of red dye No. 3, research showed that laboratory rats exposed to high doses of the additive over a long period developed thyroid cancer.
Could PEEPS lose their famous color?
About 12,000 products sold in California use the newly banned ingredients, according to the Environmental Working Group.
In 1990, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the dye’s use in cosmetics based in part on that research.
However, the ingredient is still allowed to be used in food.
In a statement provided to Consumer Reports, Just Born said: ‘By Easter 2024, of all of our PEEPS offerings, two colors will contain red #3: pink and lavender. All Just Born products, including Pink and Lavender PEEPS, meet FDA guidelines and use only FD&C certified colors.
“You will start to see the updated ingredient list on store shelves in the coming months.”
Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports, said: “We have known for years that Red Dye 3 and other toxic chemicals banned under California’s landmark pose serious risks to our health.
‘The widespread use of red dye #3 is particularly concerning, as it is found in many products marketed to children who are especially at risk of developing health problems from exposure.
“We applaud Just Born for removing Red Dye #3 from PEEPS before California’s law takes effect in 2027 and urge other companies to do the same.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom last week signed the so-called ‘Bowling Ban,’ which bans four popular additives that have been linked to cancer, illness and mood disorders.
The bill gives food companies three years to remove ingredients from their products or face fines of up to $10,000.
The four newly banned additives are: brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben and red dye number 3.
PEEPS is the first product to announce that it will remove one of the banned ingredients by the state’s 2027 deadline, but it is only one of approximately 12,000 products sold in California that uses at least one of the newly banned ingredients.