Skittles ban in california? lawmaker fights confusion over bill



A new California bill aims to lớn ban the use of red dye No. 3 & four other chemicals in food products due to potential risks like carcinogenic effects, memory loss, behavioral issues và reproductive problems.

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California Assembly Bill 418 (or AB 418) is looking lớn stop the manufacture, distribution or sale of any food products in the state that contain either the chemical potassium bromate, red dye No. 3, propylparaben, brominated vegetable oil or titanium dioxide.

These chemicals are found in popular foods like Skittles, Nerds, Little Debbie baked goods và Starburst.

Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel introduced the bill, saying in a press release Californians shouldn’t have lớn worry the food they buy “might be full of dangerous additives or toxic chemicals.”

The National Confectioners Association—which represents many chocolate and candy manufacturers, brokers and suppliers—opposes the bill, saying in a statement that “there is no evidence to tư vấn banning the ingredients listed in the bill.”

Red Dye No. 3

Red dye No. 3 (also known as Erythrosine or E 127) is an artificial coloring used in over 2,900 food products, lượt thích Brach’s candy corn, Peeps, Baby Bottle Pops và Hot Tamales, according khổng lồ EWG’s database. It’s also used in some medications, lượt thích the weight-loss drug phentermine & the seizure và epilepsy drug phenytoin. The Food and Drug Administration banned red dye No. 3 for use in cosmetics và externally applied drugs in 1990 due to findings from unpublished animal research that linked the chemical lớn thyroid cancer. However, the chemical is still approved for use in food, ingestible drugs và dietary supplements by the FDA. The European Union limits use of red dye No. 3 to lớn only certain candied cherries or cocktail cherries. A study found red dye No. 3 & other artificial coloring causes an increase in hyperactivity and behavioral issues in children, though it’s an inactive ingredient in the popular attention deficit & hyperactivity drug Vyvanse’s capsule shell. According lớn a separate study, the average U.S. Child between the ages of 2 và 5 consumes twice as much red dye No. 3 as the general population on a body-weight basis.

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Titanium Dioxide

Titanium dioxide (also known as E171) is a food color used to lớn enhance food and over-the-counter products’ white màu sắc or opacity, and is found in products such as Skittles, Jell-O, Sour Patch Kids and even sunscreen and house paint. A 2017 European study published in Nature found the chemical lớn collect in the toàn thân in places like the kidney, liver, spleen và bloodstream. In 2022, the EU banned titanium dioxide following an assessment by the European Food Safety Authority, which linked the chemical lớn genotoxicity (the ability to lớn damage DNA), and labeled it as “possibly carcinogenic.” However, some researchers believe restrictions on titanium dioxide are based on old findings and should be reassessed. The FDA limits the use of titanium dioxide in food to being just 1% of the food’s weight.

Brominated Vegetable Oil

Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is used in drinks khổng lồ prevent the citrus flavoring from floating khổng lồ the top, according to the FDA. Heather Stapleton, an environmental chemist at Duke University who specializes in studying brominated compounds, told the Scientific American there are concerns BVO may cause “potential health effects.” Bromine has been found to irritate the skin và mucous membranes, and long-term exposure can lead to memory loss, headaches or impaired coordination or balance. The FDA limits use of BVO to small quantities, but acknowledges more information about “possible health effects is needed.” After a Mississippi"s teenager’s petition to lớn remove BVO from orange Gatorade gained over 200,000 signatures, Pepsi removed the ingredient from its Gatorade products. Coca-Cola also announced the removal of BVO from Powerade and all other products lượt thích Fanta. BVO is banned in nhật bản and Europe. It’s still found in some Keurig Dr Pepper products lượt thích Sun Drop soda.

Potassium Bromate

Potassium bromate is known as a “flour improver,” that strengthens dough and helps with a higher rise và greater oven spring. EWG’s database includes 180 baked goods where the chemical can be found, including Hanover’s sourdough soft pretzels, Stouffer’s chicken pot pie bites and Sam’s Choice cheese franks in a blanket. The International Agency for Research on Cancer found potassium bromate may be a potential human carcinogen. Several countries including China, Brazil, Canada, India và EU thành viên states have banned the chemical due khổng lồ research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which link potassium bromate lớn carcinogenic effects in animals. Products containing the chemical must have a cancer warning in California, according to lớn the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. The FDA says potassium bromate can be “safely used” under certain parameters.


Propylparaben is a food additive used in baked goods lượt thích Sara Lee cinnamon rolls, La Banderita corn tortillas và Betty Crocker icing. It’s also used in cosmetics & skin care products lớn extend shelf life. The FDA labels the additive as “generally recognized as safe,” as long as it doesn’t exceed 0.1% in food. However, it’s not approved for preservative use in foods in the EU due to “potential endocrine disrupting properties.” In 2013, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health discovered a possible link between propylparabens and diminished fertility. A 2002 study by the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Public Health found propylparaben decreased sperm count in young male rats. However, more recent research didn’t find an effect of propylparaben on reproductive organs in rats. Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found propylparaben in the urine of most study participants, suggesting a widespread exposure to most Americans. However, they noted this doesn’t imply that parabens “cause an adverse health effect.”

Further Reading

Brominated Battle: Soda Chemical Has Cloudy Health History (Scientific American)

California bill aims khổng lồ ban sale of popular candies containing ingredients that may cause health issues (CNN)

Banned bread: why does the US allow additives that Europe says are unsafe? (The Guardian)

CORRECTION 03/29: An earlier version listed Weight Watchers as a brand who carries products containing potassium bromate. Those products have since been discontinued.


I"m a Texas native covering the latest trends in tech, science & healthcare through explainer pieces on the breaking news team. Previously, I was a HBCU Scholar writing under the innovation and health và science teams. In 2022, I graduated from Clark Atlanta University where I was the fashion editor for CAU"s official newspaper, the Panther, & the managing editor of Her Campus CAU. During my matriculation, I interned with đứng đầu companies such as Warner Bros. Discovery and The Walt Disney Company. Got a tip? Don"t hesitate to lớn reach out to lớn me via email (ajohnson

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