by Michelle Blood
A California lawmaker introduced a bill banning additives used in Skittles, jelly beans, Campbell’s soup, some bread brands, and more, Cnet and other outlets reported.
“Californians shouldn’t have to worry that the food they buy in their neighborhood grocery store might be full of dangerous additives or toxic chemicals,” said California Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D) in a press release.
Gabriel is the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection.
“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,” the lawmaker also said of Assembly Bill 418.
If enacted, beloved candies, soups, and breads would become illegal to manufacture or sell in the state. Foods on the chopping block include Skittles, Sour Patch Kids, jelly beans, Trident sugar-free gum, Pez, Hostess desserts, Campbell’s soup, Old El Paso queso sauce, certain brands of bread, and more.
The bill would be the first in the United States to ban the use of the named additives in processed foods. Gabriel notes that processed foods and candies containing the substances are “marketed to children, low-income consumers, and communities of color.”
Gabriel’s bill proposes a prohibition on “manufacturing, selling, delivering, distributing, holding, or offering for sale” food containing any of five substances. The substances are brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propyl paraben, red dye 3, and titanium dioxide.
The targeted substances are already banned in the European Union over public health concerns, according to Gabriel’s statement. Those health risks, Gabriel says, include an increased cancer risk, behavioral issues for children, reproductive harm, and damage to the immune system.
“Why are these toxic chemicals in our food?” said Susan Little, the Environmental Working Group’s Governmental Affairs Senior Advocate for California.
“We know they are harmful and that children are likely eating more of these chemicals than adults. It makes no sense that the same products food manufacturers sell in California are sold in the EU but without these toxic chemicals. We thank Assemblymember Gabriel’s efforts to remove these toxic additives from California’s food supply,” Little also said.
Directors from companies including the National Confectioners Association, California Grocers Association and the American Chemistry Council oppose the bill, the Daily Mail reported. The groups say the bill is premature and that the targeted substances are safe.
“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,” the letter says.
The confectionery industry creates $7.7 billion of economic impact in California, according to the National Confectioners Association. The industry provides over 100,000 direct and indirect jobs in the Golden State.
“We create good-paying jobs manufacturing chocolate, candy, gum and mints and support thousands of additional American jobs through the sourcing of our raw materials and distribution and sale of finished products,” the organization says.