Gov. Gavin Newsom signed first-of-its-kind legislation Oct. 7 to prohibit the use of four dangerous chemicals in processed foods and drinks sold in California.
Authored by Assemblymembers Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino) and Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), Assembly Bill (AB) 418 – the California Food Safety Act – would prohibit the manufacture, sale or distribution in California of any food product containing red dye No. 3, potassium bromate, brominated vegetable oil or propyl paraben.
AB 418 was amended in the State Senate to remove titanium dioxide from the list of banned additives and to delay implementation of the bill until 2027 to give food companies time to negotiate new contracts and phase in new recipes.
“The governor’s signature today [Saturday] represents a huge step forward in our effort to protect children and families in California from dangerous and toxic chemicals in our food supply,” said Gabriel. “It’s unacceptable that the U.S. is so far behind the rest of the world when it comes to food safety. This bill will not ban any foods or products – it simply will require food companies to make minor modifications to their recipes and switch to the safer alternative ingredients that they already use in Europe and so many other places around the globe.”
Due to major flaws with the FDA approval process – which has allowed close to 99 percent of food chemicals to escape meaningful, independent review by the FDA – the U.S. has become a global outlier in food safety.
The use of these chemicals has already been banned in the 27 nations in the European Union (EU) as well as many other countries due to scientific research linking them to significant health harms, including cancer, reproductive issues and behavioral and developmental issues in children.
“AB 418 is the most important food safety bill in more than a decade and its passage is a historic victory for protecting kids and families from dangerous food chemicals,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group. “For decades, chemical companies have been able to exploit a loophole that allows food additives to escape adequate review and oversight by the FDA. Since the FDA has failed to keep us safe, it has become the responsibility of states like California to step up and lead.”
Many major brands and manufacturers – including Coke, Pepsi, Gatorade and Panera – have voluntarily stopped using the additives that would be banned under AB 418 because of concerns about their impact on human health. One of these chemicals – red dye No. 3 – is already banned by the FDA for use in cosmetics.