California bans four food additives, including red dye 3

Josh Long, Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider

October 8, 2023

2 Min Read
Gov. Gavin Newsom
Gov. Gavin NewsomEditorial credit: Sheila Fitzgerald /

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday signed a bill that prohibits the distribution, manufacturing or sale of four food additives, including brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben and red dye 3.

AB-418 initially included a ban on titanium dioxide, though that provision was eventually removed from the bill in the face of opposition from industry groups.

The bill takes effect on Jan. 1, 2027, making a violation of its provisions punishable by a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for the first violation and up to $10,000 for each subsequent violation, based on an action brought by the state attorney general, a city attorney, a county counsel or a district attorney.

In a signing message, Newsom said the additives that the bill addresses are already prohibited in many other countries.

“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,” Newsom said.

The governor added the delayed implementation of the bill until 2027 offers “significant time for brands to revise their recipes to avoid these harmful chemicals.”

“Californians will still be able to access and enjoy their favorite food products, with greater confidence in the safety of such products,” Newsom concluded.

Related:Calif. bill to ban titanium dioxide, red dye3 faces opposition from food groups

Supporters of AB-418 contend the chemicals targeted in the bill are linked to such serious health risks as increased risk of cancer and harm to the reproductive system and immune system, according to a May 5, 2023, General Assembly floor analysis of AB-418.

“But because of the FDA’s inaction and regulatory loopholes, these chemicals are found in many food products, such as snacks, candy and soda consumed by children in California and the United States,” the analysis adds.

Food and dietary supplement groups have argued the bill represents a patchwork approach to regulating additives and undermines the federal regulatory system for overseeing them.

“California is once again making decisions based on soundbites rather than science,” the National Confectioners Association said in a statement after Newsom signed AB-418. “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. This is a slippery slope that the FDA could prevent by engaging on this important topic. We should be relying on the scientific rigor of the FDA in terms of evaluating the safety of food ingredients and additives.”

About the Author(s)

Josh Long

Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider, Informa Markets Health and Nutrition

Josh Long directs the online news, feature and op-ed coverage at Natural Products Insider, which targets the health and wellness industry. He has been reporting on developments in the dietary supplement industry for over a decade, with a focus on regulatory issues, including at the Food and Drug Administration.

He has moderated and/or presented at industry trade shows, including SupplySide East, SupplySide West, Natural Products Expo West, NBJ Summit and the annual Dietary Supplement Regulatory Summit.

Connect with Josh on LinkedIn and ping him with story ideas at [email protected]

Education and previous experience

Josh majored in journalism and graduated from Arizona State University the same year "Jake the Snake" Plummer led the Sun Devils to the Rose Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes. He also holds a J.D. from the University of Wyoming College of Law, was admitted in 2008 to practice law in the state of Colorado and spent a year clerking for a state district court judge.

Over more than a quarter century, he’s written on various topics for newspapers and business-to-business publications – from the Yavapai in Arizona and a controversial plan for a nuclear-waste incinerator in Idaho to nuanced issues, including FDA enforcement of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA).

Since the late 1990s, his articles have been published in a variety of media, including but not limited to, the Cape Cod Times (in Massachusetts), Sedona Red Rock News (in Arizona), Denver Post (in Colorado), Casper Star-Tribune (in Wyoming), now-defunct Jackson Hole Guide (in Wyoming), Colorado Lawyer (published by the Colorado Bar Association) and Nutrition Business Journal.

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