Calif. Assembly approves ban on Skittles, other foods

A bill that would require sweeping changes to recipes for various foods and candies is one step closer to becoming law.

The California State Assembly approved a bill that would ban Skittles, Hot Tamales, and a bevy of other foods and candies.

The bill, Assembly Bill 418, proposed by Asm. Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills) is centered on foods that contain specific chemicals linked to health issues. The bill now heads to the State Senate for consideration.


Driving the News: The bill seeks to prohibit the manufacture, sale, or distribution of products containing Red Dye No. 3, Titanium Dioxide, Potassium Bromate, Brominated Vegetable Oil, or Propyl Paraben in California. These chemicals, which are already banned in the European Union, have been linked to cancer, reproductive issues, and developmental issues in children.

  • The list of products containing these additives is vast and includes candies, medicine, pizza, drinks, coffee creamers, and flour.
  • However, many major brands, including Coke, Pepsi, Gatorade, Dunkin Donuts, Papa John’s Pizza, and Panera, have voluntarily stopped using them in their products, according to Gabriel’s office.
  • If passed and signed into law, AB 418 would require food and beverage companies to change their recipes to remove these chemicals in order to sell their products in California. Gabriel believes this would also force them to change their formulas for the entire U.S.

What they’re saying: “It’s unacceptable that the U.S. is so far behind the rest of the world when it comes to banning these dangerous additives,” Gabriel said. “We don’t love our children any less than they do in Europe and it’s not too much to ask food and beverage manufacturers to switch to the safer alternative ingredients that they already use in Europe and so many other nations around the globe.”

    • The food and beverage industry opposes the bill, with trade groups arguing that “all five of these additives have been thoroughly reviewed by the federal and state systems and many international scientific bodies and continue to be deemed safe.” They argue that the bill “usurps the comprehensive food safety and approval system for these five additives and predetermines ongoing evaluations.”
    • The bill is expected to be heard in the California State Senate in the coming weeks. The legislative session ends on September 14.
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