USA – In a groundbreaking move to safeguard public health and bring the United States in line with international standards, the California State Assembly and Senate have unanimously passed a bill banning the use of four harmful chemicals in processed foods and beverages.
The legislation targeted red dye No. 3, potassium bromates, brominated vegetable oil, and propylparaben, all of which have been linked to cancer, reproductive issues, and developmental problems in children.
California’s decision to enact this bill makes it the first US state to prohibit food additives that are currently permitted by the FDA.
The bill, now awaiting the signature of California’s Governor Gavin Newsom, has garnered widespread support from legislators and public health advocates.
Upon becoming law, it will set a precedent for other states to follow, encouraging a nationwide transition to safer alternatives.
The banned chemicals are commonly found in a variety of processed foods and drinks, including orange soda, icing, hamburger rolls, candies, and more. The legislation marks a significant step towards reducing exposure to these harmful substances in everyday products.
“This bipartisan vote marks a huge step forward in our efforts to protect children and families in California from dangerous and toxic chemicals in our food,” Jesse Gabriel, Assembly member of the California legislature, stated hailing the bipartisan support for the bill.
He expressed concern that the US lags behind other countries in banning these additives and called on food and beverage manufacturers to switch to safer alternatives already used in Europe and many other nations.
The bill mandated that the banned chemicals be removed from food and beverages by 2027, with expectations that reformulation would occur well before the deadline.
Non-compliance will result in penalties, with a maximum civil penalty of US$5,000 for the first violation and US$10,000 for subsequent breaches.
Critics of the FDA have accused the agency of inadequately regulating food additives. The US Environmental Working Group (EWG) highlighted that over 10,000 chemicals are permitted in food sold in the US, with nearly 99% of those introduced since 2000 approved by the food and chemical industry rather than the FDA.
Meanwhile, major brands like Coke, PepsiCo, Gatorade, Dunkin Donuts, Papa John’s Pizza, and Panera Bread have voluntarily phased out the use of these additives due to mounting evidence of their risks.
The four banned additives targeted by the legislation have been used to enhance the visual appeal and extend the shelf life of food products.
Susan Little, EWG’s Senior Advocate for California Government Affairs, emphasized the vulnerability of children to chemical exposure and questioned the presence of these additives in food products, especially given that they are absent from products sold in the EU.