California’s state legislature passed a bill Tuesday banning commonly used chemical ingredients found in popular snacks and drinks including Brach’s Candy Corn and Strawberry Yoo-hoo, after studies linked those chemicals to health issues in humans, putting the ban on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk for a signature.
California’s House voted overwhelmingly to pass the bill, one day after the Senate voted 33-3 in favor of the bill, which if signed by Newsom would ban the sale, distribution or manufacture of potassium bromate, titanium dioxide brominated vegetable oil, red dye No. 3 and propylparaben starting in 2027.
The bill faces opposition from the lobby group National Confectioners Association, which released a statement in March arguing “there is no evidence to support banning the ingredient” and that “chocolate and candy are safe to enjoy, as they have been for centuries,” though the chemicals in the ban have been linked to behavioral and reproductive issues, and been shown to be potentially carcinogenic.
Studies have found red dye No. 3, which was banned by the FDA for cosmetic use in 1990 following studies tying it to thyroid cancer, is also linked to behavioral issues and boosted hyperactivity in children, according to a 2004 study published in the medical journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.
A former version of the bill also included the food coloring agent titanium dioxide, an ingredient found in Skittles, leading to the bill derisively being framed as a “Skittles ban.” The chemical had been linked to damage in DNA, called genotoxicity, according to a European Food Safety Authority report, leading the European Union to ban the chemical last year. The FDA had issued a statement after the bill was introduced earlier this year asserting the chemical is safe in foods.
Pepsi removed brominated vegetable oil, an additive used in beverages to keep flavor oils balanced that also contains the element bromine found in flame retardants, from their Gatorade products in 2013. Rival Coca-Cola announced it would remove brominated vegetable oil from all of its products, including Fresca and Powerade, one year later. Japan and the European Union also ban brominated vegetable oil.