The debate has not ended law over ‘Skittle Law’ after California governor signs ban


It’s being called the “Skittle Law” by some in California, which is still controversial and outlaws red dye 3. It was initially to ban five dangerous substances from food, but titanium dioxide was ultimately allowed.

Maybe the power of the chewing gum lobby saved titanium dioxide. It is a food additive for whitening or opacity used in gum.

The new law makes, however, California the first U.S. state to ban food products containing the dangerous additives brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben, and red dye 3 beginning on Jan. 1, 2027. 

These dyes and additives have already been banned in the European Union.

Among those who’ve spoken out in favor of the ban since Gov. Gavin Newsom changed the law is Julie Chapon, founder and CEO of the health app Yuka.

About CA 418, she says, “The enactment of the California Food Safety Act is great news for consumer health and is a step in the right direction for manufacturers in the U.S. needing to re-evaluate the potentially dangerous substances they add to their products. Among these four substances, three are banned throughout the European Union, and the 4th is only allowed in a particular product (cocktail cherries). This legislation shows an important step forward in shifting the burden of avoiding harmful additives away from the individual consumer and putting the responsibility on manufacturers and policy-makers.” 

But the governor’s action on Assembly Bill 418 continues to be disputed by food groups like the National Confectioners Association.

“They’re making decisions based on soundbites rather than science, “ NCA said. “Governor Newsom’s approval of this bill will undermine consumer confidence and create confusion around food safety.”

“This law replaces a uniform national food safety system with a patchwork of inconsistent state requirements created by legislative fiat that will increase food costs, NGA added. “This is a slippery slope that the FDA could prevent by engaging on this important topic. We should rely on the scientific rigor of the FDA to evaluate the safety of food ingredients and additives.”

The FDA has a slightly different point of view.

“The claim that these substances have not undergone FDA review is inaccurate. All these substances have been evaluated by the FDA,” according to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration spokesperson in an email to NBCLA. 

Under the Federal Food and Drug Act, ingredients added to food must be safe under their intended conditions, and safety information must be available to establish a reasonable certainty of no harm before they are used in products on the market. 

“The FDA is aware of recent actions by the European Union regarding using titanium dioxide as a color additive. We note that other international regulatory bodies, including the United Kingdom’s FSA, Health Canada, and FSANZ, have not agreed with the European Union assessment,” the FDA said. 

In an email to NGA, the FDA said it monitors and authorizes the use of food ingredients to ensure they are safe. 

It said, “The FDA has evaluated all the substances in California Bill 418,” 

“When we identify new data and information that indicates the use of an ingredient is unsafe, we take steps to protect public health — which can include revoking authorizations or approvals for certain uses, working with industry on voluntary market phase-out agreements and recalls, issuing alerts and informing consumers.” 

In signing the law, Gov. Newsom said: “Signing this into law is a positive step forward on these four food additives until the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviews and establishes national updated safety levels for these additives.”

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