On October 7, a groundbreaking new law was passed in California banning four processed food ingredients that have been controversial with health advocates for years. Here’s everything you need to know about the banned ingredients and what this could mean for the future of food safety in the United States…
the law: the California Food Safety Act was authored by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills) and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on October 8, 2023.
4 Chemicals Banned By The California Food Safety Act
What is banned: This Act prohibits the manufacture, sale or distribution of food products containing any of these four ingredients:
+ Brominated vegetable oil (Found in some citrus soft drinks)
+ Potassium bromate (Found in many processed baked goods)
+ Propyl paraben (A preservative found in some packaged foods)
+ Red Dye No. 3 (Found in some red candy, packaged mixes)
Each of these four ingredients have been linked to a number of serious health concerns including hyperactivity, nervous system damage and an increased risk of cancer according to the EWG.
What It Means: According to Assemblymember Gabriel, “It’s unacceptable that the U.S. is so far behind the rest of the world when it comes to food safety. This bill will not ban any foods or products – it simply will require food companies to make minor modifications to their recipes and switch to the safer alternative ingredients that they already use in Europe and so many other places around the globe.”
According to the EWG, as many at 12,000 products may be affected.
Similarly to the beauty and personal care space, the U.S. actually allows many ingredients in food that are no longer allowed in Japan or the EU. In fact, many large personal care brands create different formulas for EU retailers than they do for the U.S. That type of reformulation will now be required of food brands that want to sell their products here in California. It’s possible that this new law could affect the formulas that companies offer nationwide.
The law does not go into effect until January 1, 2027. In the meantime, we urge you to be a discerning consumer as always. Read labels for this ingredients and avoid them at home. Vani Hari (aka The Food Babe) urges consumers to stop looking at the front of packaging for information and start reading labels. “I read ingredient labels closely. It’s the best way to know what’s truly in a packaged food and whether it’s good for you. If you don’t know what an ingredient is or how it can affect your health, put it back on the shelf and look for a product made with real food. “
Don’t know where to start? Read this story with 15 pros we trust on the label reading tips that’ll get you started in the right direction. Want to share insights with other readers? Share your go-to grocery shopping and label reading tips in the comments!