SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A new bill proposed in the California legislature would ban popular candies such as Skittles and Nerds, as well as other processed food items that contain chemicals linked to health problems such as an increased risk of cancer and behavioral issues in children.
Assembly Bill 418, proposed by Rep. Jesse Gabriel from Woodland Hills, would ban processed foods with the chemicals red dye no. 3, titanium dioxide, potassium bromate, brominated vegetable oil and propyl paraben.
All five chemicals have already been banned in the European Union due to studies that have linked them to dangers to people's health, including an increased risk of cancer, behavioral issues in children, harm to the reproductive system and damage to the immune system.
The chemicals are often put in processed foods to make them last longer, taste better and look more enticing.
"Why are these toxic chemicals in our food?" said Susan Little, a senior advocate for the nonprofit Environmental Working Group. "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."
The chemicals that would be banned by AB 418 have either never been independently evaluated, or were reviewed decades ago, by the Food and Drug Administration. The chemicals have been allowed to enter the country's food supply by being labeled a "generally recognized as safe" chemical.
"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 Gabriel. "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."
If the bill is passed, California would be the first state to ban such chemicals.
The bill is expected to be heard in committee in the coming weeks.