California Senate Committee on Health approves first-in-the-nation food chemical bill

The five chemicals to be banned have been linked to many health risks including cancer, nervous system damage and hyperactivity.

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Image Credit: Civil Eats

A bill to ban five chemicals from processed food passed the California Senate Committee on Health last month. Assembly Bill 418 (A.B. 418), introduced by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, (D-Woodland Hills), would end the use of brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propyl paraben, Red Dye No. 3 and titanium dioxide throughout California.

The five chemicals to be banned have been linked to many health risks including cancer, nervous system damage and hyperactivity.

“Today’s vote is a major step forward in our effort to protect children and families in California from dangerous and toxic chemicals in our food supply,” Gabriel, chair of the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection, said. 

While these chemicals were already banned from use in many food in Europe, Assembly Bill 418 is a first-in-the-nation bill.

“It’s unacceptable that the U.S. is so far behind the rest of the world when it comes to banning these dangerous additives,” Gabriel said. “We don’t love our children any less than they do in Europe, and it’s not too much to ask food and beverage manufacturers to switch to the safer alternative ingredients that they already use in Europe and so many other nations around the globe.”

There are thousands of chemicals still used in food sold in the U.S., which were introduced and approved by the food and chemical industry, instead of the Food and Drug Administration, Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports, said.

“The last time some of these chemicals were assessed by the FDA was almost 50 years ago,” Ronholm said. “A number of peer-reviewed studies have linked these food chemicals to serious health risks since that time, but the FDA is not required to reexamine them once they’re allowed on the market.”

While many supporters of the A.B.418 said the bill “would set an important precedent for improving the safety of many processed foods,” opponents of the bill said it would “end the sale of candy and other popular items in the state,” Environmental Working Group reported.

“For decades, the FDA has failed to keep us safe from toxic food chemicals,” Scott Faber, EWG senior vice president for government affairs, said. “In the absence of federal leadership, it’s up to states like California to keep us safe from dangerous chemicals in candy, cookies and other foods our families enjoy.”

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