California Bans Four Food Additives Linked to Health Risks

Food Additives

California has become the first state in the US to ban four food additives that have been associated with various health problems, such as cancer, heart and liver issues, and reproductive damage. The new law, known as the California Food Safety Act, was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on October 7, 2023, and will take effect in 2027.

Food Additives


The Four Banned Additives

The four substances that are prohibited by the law are:

  • Red dye 3: A synthetic colorant that is used in candies, baked goods, and cosmetics. It has been shown to cause thyroid tumors in rats and mice, and may also affect human thyroid function and behavior.
  • Potassium bromate: A chemical that improves the texture and rise of bread and other baked goods. It has been classified as a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and may also cause kidney damage and thyroid problems.
  • Brominated vegetable oil (BVO): A substance that prevents the separation of flavoring oils in citrus drinks. It contains bromine, which can accumulate in the body and affect the nervous system, thyroid, and liver. It may also cause memory loss, fatigue, and skin problems.
  • Propylparaben: A preservative that prevents the growth of mold and bacteria in food. It has been linked to hormone disruption, infertility, and breast cancer.

These additives are already banned or restricted in the European Union and other countries, but are still allowed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has not reviewed some of these substances for decades, or at all, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit organization that co-sponsored the bill.

The Impact of the Ban

The ban will affect about 12,000 food products that contain these additives, including some popular brands of candies, cereals, sodas, trail mix, tortillas, and red velvet cupcakes. The manufacturers will have until 2027 to reformulate their products or stop selling them in California.

The ban could also have a ripple effect for the food industry nationwide, as California is a large and influential market. Some experts expect that large manufacturers will remove the additives from their products everywhere, rather than creating separate versions for California.

The ban is a historic win for consumers and public health advocates, who have been calling for more regulation of food additives for years. They argue that these substances are unnecessary and unscientific, and pose a risk to people’s health and well-being.

“It’s going to make our food supply much safer,” Assembly member Jesse Gabriel, who introduced the bill along with Assembly member Buffy Wicks, told NBC News. “It’s going to give parents more confidence that when they’re buying foods at the grocery store, they don’t have to worry that there’s something in there that’s dangerous for their kids.”

The Opposition to the Ban

The ban has also faced some opposition from the food industry and some scientists, who claim that the additives are safe and effective, and that banning them will confuse consumers and undermine confidence in the FDA.

The National Confectioners Association said that this new law will create unnecessary fear and misinformation about food safety. They said that these additives are approved by the FDA based on rigorous scientific evidence, and that they provide important benefits such as enhancing flavor, color, texture, and shelf life.

UC Davis food expert James Coughlin told Cal Matters that banning these chemicals is “unnecessary and unscientific.” He said that there is no conclusive evidence that these substances cause harm to humans at the levels found in food. He also said that removing them could affect the quality and availability of some products.

The FDA has not commented on the ban yet, but has previously stated that it monitors the safety of food additives and takes action when needed. The agency has also said that there is no evidence that red dye 3 causes behavioral problems in children who are not diagnosed with such issues.

By Kane Wilson

Kane Wilson, founder of this news website, is a seasoned news editor renowned for his analytical skills and meticulous approach to storytelling. His journey in journalism began as a local reporter, and he quickly climbed the ranks due to his talent for unearthing compelling stories. Kane completed his Master’s degree in Media Studies from Northwestern University and spent several years in broadcast journalism prior to co-founding this platform. His dedication to delivering unbiased news and ability to present complex issues in an easily digestible format make him an influential voice in the industry.

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