California Bans Harmful Food Additives: Protecting Our Health

Red Dye No. 3 and More: A New Era for Food Safety in California

In a landmark move for public health, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom signed a groundbreaking bill into law. This legislation, known as the California Food Safety Act, makes four widely used food additives illegal in the state.

California Bans Red Food Dye in Skittles
California Bans Red Food Dye in Skittles (Image source: Twitter)

Among them is the controversial red dye no. 3, a substance already banned in the European Union. This article delves into this pivotal development, the additives affected, and the implications for our well-being.

The Disputed Dye: Red No. 3

Red dye no. 3, a common ingredient in Skittles, PediaSure, and various other products, has come under scrutiny. Notably, it’s found in children’s treats and even non-red foods like mashed potatoes and rice. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has raised concerns about its safety, and these concerns have been addressed by the new California Food Safety Act, which categorically bans its production, sale, and distribution.

Potassium Bromate: A Culinary Tool and Potential Carcinogen

Potassium bromate, often used as a dough improver and maturing agent, is also among the banned additives. The National Institute of Health acknowledges its usefulness but classifies it as a “possible carcinogen.” It’s worth noting that this substance is banned in the European Union, India, and China, emphasizing the global concern over its safety.

Brominated Vegetable Oil: A Flavor Preserver with Risks

Another substance on the list is brominated vegetable oil, commonly added to some beverages to prevent the separation of citrus flavoring. This additive is banned in the European Union due to safety concerns.

Propylparabens: Balancing Preservation and Hormonal Disruption

Propylparabens, used for antimicrobial food preservation, are the final component of the banned additives. While they serve a purpose in preserving food, the Environmental Working Group warns that they mimic estrogen and can disrupt the endocrine system.

Clarifying Misconceptions

Governor Newsom addressed misconceptions surrounding the bill. He pointed out that Skittles can be sold in the European Union with ingredients conforming to their ban. This highlights the ability of the food industry to adapt to varying public health laws and regulations across different countries.

Delayed Implementation

While the National Confectioners Association expressed concerns about potential confusion around food safety and increased costs, it’s important to note that the bill’s implementation is set to begin in 2027. This gives brands ample time to reformulate their recipes, eliminating these harmful additives.

California’s decisive move to ban red dye no. 3 and other controversial additives represent a significant step towards safer food consumption. With health risks associated with these substances, this legislation demonstrates a commitment to public well-being. Brands now have a window of opportunity to prioritize consumer health by reformulating their products.


1. Why is red dye no. 3 banned in California?

Red dye no. 3 has been linked to health concerns, including thyroid cancer, leading to its ban under the California Food Safety Act.

2. Are these additives banned in other countries?

Yes, many of these additives, including red dye no. 3 and potassium bromate, are banned in the European Union and several other countries.

3. When does the ban on these additives take effect?

The ban is set to be implemented in California in 2027, allowing companies time to adjust their recipes.

4. What is the purpose of these food additives?

These additives serve various purposes, including enhancing food color, preserving freshness, and improving dough texture.

5. How can consumers identify products without these additives?

To avoid products with banned additives, consumers should carefully read ingredient labels and look for alternative options that use safer ingredients.

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