California Bans Brominated Vegetable Oil, Red Dye No. 3 and Other Potentially Toxic Food Additives

The new California bill banning four potentially toxic chemicals is the first law implemented by any state to prohibit food additives allowed by the FDA.

California lawmakers have enacted new legislation that will ban the use of four chemicals in food products, amid growing concerns over long-term health effects associated with food additives.

Assembly bill 418 was signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom on October 7, prohibiting the manufacture, sale, delivery, or distribution of food products containing brominated vegetable oil, red dye number 3, potassium bromate, and propylparaben chemicals.

The bill will take effect beginning on January 1, 2027, imposing fines of $5,000 for the first violation, and $10,000 for any subsequent violations. Manufacturers will be required to modify their recipes and use safer alternative ingredients that many countries are already using.

California is the first state to outlaw chemicals that are allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Food Additive Health Risks

Manufacturers add the chemicals to food products to improve their appearance and make them last longer. However, they are already banned in the European Union and other countries, because they have been associated with adverse health effects.

While the FDA prohibited red dye 3 in cosmetic products after studies showed it caused cancer in lab animals, the additive and other potentially toxic chemicals are still allowed in U.S. food products.

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Red dye number 3 is an artificial color derived from petroleum that is added to foods and medicines to give them a bright red tone. The artificial food dye has been associated with behavioral problems in children, including hyperactivity.

Brominated vegetable oil is an emulsifier added to some citrus flavored drinks, which have been found to cause concerning health effects in lab animals, including behavioral and reproductive issues.

Potassium bromate is a chemical added to flour to help bread riser higher, and has been linked to cancer in lab animals.

Propylparaben is a preservative, which may mimic estrogen and can potentially disrupt the endocrine system.

While the FDA is working on a proposed rule to ban brominated vegetable oil, it stands by the use of the other ingredients impacted by the new California ban.

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