Californians could become the first in the U.S. to say goodbye to current versions of their favorite candies.
A measure has been introduced in California that would ban the manufacture, sale and distribution of foods that contain certain chemicals — many of which can be found in candies and processed foods — starting in 2025.
The bill, AB 418, announced by Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills) last month, would make California the first state to ban the use of Red Dye No. 3, Titanium Dioxide, Potassium Bromate, Brominated Vegetable Oil and Propyl Paraben.
“This bill will correct for a concerning lack of federal oversight and help protect our kids, public health, and the safety of our food supply,” Gabriel, chair of the assembly committee on privacy and consumer protection, said in a statement.
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The European Union has already banned these five chemicals after studies linked them to health concerns like an increased risk of cancer and harm to the immune system, according to a news release from his office.
Here is a list of what popular food products contain the additives that the bill seeks to ban:
- Red Dye No. 3 can be found in PEZ, Hot Tamales, Dubble Bubble Twist Gum and the popular Valentine's Day candy Sweethearts.
- Titanium Dioxide can be found in Skittles, Nerds and Trolli gummies.
- Potassium Bromate can be found in Balducci's Sugar Cookies and other packaged baked goods.
- Brominated Vegetable Oil can be found in citrus soft drinks.
- Propyl Paraben can be found in Sara Lee Honey Glazed Buns and various tortillas.
More Candy Content:
Does This Mean No More Skittles?
Banning the chemicals does not mean the products will disappear.
"There is no realistic chance that this bill will result in Skittles or any other product being pulled off the shelf and that is absolutely not the intent," Gabriel said in a statement to NBC. "The idea here is for these companies to make minor modifications to their recipes so that these products don’t include dangerous and toxic chemicals."
Gabriel said Skittles and other brands have altered their recipes in nations that have banned these chemicals — and he hopes California will do the same. If that happens, other U.S. states could also adopt the new recipes.
AB 418 has support from the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization that works to remove toxic chemicals from the food supply.
"Why are these toxic chemicals in our food," said Susan Little, EWG's governmental affairs senior advocate for California, in a statement. “We know they are harmful and that children are likely eating more of these chemicals than adults."
The American Chemistry Council, however, opposes the bill. In a statement released Wednesday, the trade group claims it's an "unnecessary burden on consumers, manufacturers and regulators" and that global consensus on the safety of the additives goes against the bill's claims.
"AB 418 unnecessarily politicizes food additive safety determinations and undermines thorough processes that rely on ongoing assessment of adverse event reports, peer-reviewed scientific research, and careful consideration of risk based on actual or reasonably anticipated dietary exposures," the Titanium Dioxide Stewardship Council wrote.
The National Confectioners Association, the leading trade organization for the U.S. confectionery industry, also opposes AB 418. One of the organization's biggest member companies is Mars Inc., the maker of Skittles.
“Chocolate and candy are safe to enjoy, as they have been for centuries," the association wrote in a statement on behalf of the industry. "The ingredients that would be banned under this proposal have all been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Food safety is the number one priority for U.S. confectionery companies, and we do not use any ingredients in our products that do not comply with the FDA’s strictest safety standards.”
In a statement to NBC on Friday, a PEZ Candy Inc. representative said that PEZ is "compliant with any regulations in place" and "will comply to any new regulations."
Last July, a California man sued Mars Inc., claiming Skittles "are unfit for human consumption" because they contain Titanium Dioxide.
Mars Inc. said its use of the chemical complied with FDA regulations. The plaintiff voluntarily dismissed his case in November.
California Assembly's Health Committee is hearing AB 418 on April 11.