Snacks & Candy

California Bans 4 Candy Ingredients

National Confectioners Association says governor is ‘making decisions based on soundbites rather than science’
Gummy candy
Photograph: Shutterstock

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill to ban four chemicals used in candy and other foods and drinks linked to health problems. Assembly Bill 418 “will prohibit any food product manufactured, sold, delivered, distributed, held or offered for sale in California after Jan. 1, 2027, from containing brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben or red dye 3.”

“Californians will still be able to access and enjoy their favorite food products, with greater confidence in the safety of such products,” Newsom said.

Red dye No. 3 is used as food coloring for products such as Peeps, according to an Associated Press report. The chemical has been linked to cancer and has been banned from makeup for more than 30 years, AP reported.

Brominated vegetable oil is used in some store brand sodas, and potassium bromate and propylparaben are used in baked goods.

“California is once again making decisions based on soundbites rather than science, the National Confectioners Association said in a statement responding to the passage of the legislation. “Gov. Newsom’s approval of this bill will undermine consumer confidence and create confusion around food safety. This law replaces a uniform national food safety system with a patchwork of inconsistent state requirements created by legislative fiat that will increase food costs. This is a slippery slope that the FDA could prevent by engaging on this important topic. We should be relying on the scientific rigor of the FDA in terms of evaluating the safety of food ingredients and additives.

In a separate letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the NCA said, “we are faced with a lack of federal expertise and authority which is needed to dispel myths and consumer confusion permeating from California and correct misinformation related to the food ingredients and additives that were banned in that state. ... The broader food industry and American consumers need to know that the FDA is prepared to prevent that slippery slope from becoming a reality, and that it has done and will continue to do the job the Congress has given it for more than 117 years:to evaluate, at a national level, the safety of food ingredients and additives. Decisions regarding the safety of the U.S. food supply belong in the hands of our foremost food safety experts, not politicians.

While California is the first state to ban these ingredients, all four are banned in the European Union and various other countries.

Backers of the law say it doesn't mean popular products will suddenly disappear from store shelves, but rather that companies will have to tweak their recipes to be able to offer the same food and drink items with healthier ingredients, reported NPR. The proposal has been the target of a false claim that California is attempting to ban Skittles. Assembly member Jesse Gabriel, a Democrat who sponsored the bill, said that Skittles are sold with alternative ingredients in the European Union, according to the report.

Gabriel also said that a number of top brands, including Coke, Pepsi, Dunkin' and Panera, have voluntarily pulled the additives from their products.

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