(KTLA) — A proposed California bill could ban the sale of Skittles, Hot Tamales candy, Dubble Bubble Twist Gum and other food items containing chemicals that the legislation’s supporters say are toxic and dangerous.
Introduced by Assemblymembers Jesse Gabriel and Buffy Wicks, AB 418 proposes that California stop manufacturing, selling, or distributing foods that contain Red Dye No. 3, Titanium Dioxide, Potassium Bromate, Brominated Vegetable Oil, or Propyl Paraben.
These chemicals can cause significant health problems like increased risk of cancer, damage to the immune system and behavioral issues in children, Gabriel’s office said in a news release.
While many Californians won’t recognize these chemicals by name, they can be found in popular food and drink items. For example, according to Label Insights, Titanium Dioxide can be found in cupcakes, trail mix and ice cream. Propylparaben can be found in caramel chocolate.
“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,” Gabriel said in a statement. “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.”
Many of the chemicals that would be banned have never been independently reviewed by the FDA or re-evaluated in decades, according to Gabriel.
“Instead, these chemicals have entered the nation’s food supply through a loophole in federal law — known as GRAS, or ‘generally recognized as safe’ — that was intended to apply to common household ingredients like vinegar,” a news release said.
“As a result of this loophole, chemical companies have added new substances to the food supply with almost no meaningful federal oversight.”
AB-318 has been double referred, meaning it will be heard in the Assembly’s Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee (ESTM) first. If passed, it will then head to the Assembly’s Health Committee. As of Tuesday, there was no hearing date set for the first committee.
Assemblymember Jim Wood, who chairs the Health Committee, said in a statement that the mentioned additives are safe to consume.
“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,” it read in part.
But he declined to comment on the bill before a hearing. He said he would voice his recommendation once the bill came before the committee and testimony was completed.
In a statement, The National Confectioners Association condemned the proposal.
“We strongly oppose this bill because we believe it is misguided. Under the Federal Food, Drug, and
Cosmetic Act food additives are generally subject to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval
before they may be used in food and beverages. The substances that would be prohibited by AB 418 have
all been approved by FDA,” the statement read in part.
The bill would need to pass both houses of the state legislature and be signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom before it becomes law. California would be the first state to have such a law if the bill does advance.