California Legislation Could Ban Chemicals Found in Common Items

California Legislation Could Ban Chemicals Found in Common Items

( – California is very proactive in banning toxins or chemicals that it sees as potentially harmful to the general population. For example, in 2022, it banned per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and Prop 65 contains a list of hundreds of substances that mandate warnings. Now, a state legislator is going after a few more — ones commonly found in food items.

On February 22, California Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D) introduced legislation, AB 418, to ban the sale of food items that contain five specific ingredients: Red Dye No. 3, propylparaben, brominated vegetable oil, titanium dioxide, and potassium bromate. Commonly-consumed items like baked goods and candy, including skittles and hot tamales, often contain these substances.

Gabriel pointed out that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has never independently reviewed any of the above substances. Yet, manufacturers include them in food because they fall into a category known as generally recognized as safe (GRAS). Gabriel says the GRAS classification of many components has resulted in chemical companies adding “new substances to the food supply” without any “meaningful federal oversight.”

According to a news release on Gabriel’s website, the European Union has already banned the listed chemicals “due to scientific studies that have demonstrated significant public health harms.” There are reportedly links to issues with the reproductive and immune systems, behavioral patterns in children, and an increased risk of cancer.

The legislation, double-referred to both the Assembly’s Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee and the Health Committee, has a long way to go before it can hope to see passage. It must pass each committee before facing debate on the California House of Representatives and Senate floors. If the legislation survives the process and passes the legislature, Governor Gavin Newsom (D) would have to sign off on it before it becomes law.

Any action is likely a long way off because the committees haven’t currently scheduled any hearing dates on the matter.

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