Candy companies in California will be forced to change their recipes within three years or face fines after a new law was passed in the Golden State.
Gavin Newsom signed the so-called “Skittles ban” on Saturday, banning four popular additives linked to cancer, disease and mood disorders.
The bill gives food companies three years to remove the ingredients from their products or face fines of up to $10,000.
Supporters heralded the bill as an “important step” against “toxic” chemicals, but food companies hit back, calling the move confusing and threatening to raise food prices.
The four newly banned additives are: brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben and red dye No.3.
Newsom sent a letter confirming he had signed the bill. He attached a bag of European Union Skittles and said it was proof that companies could change their recipes
According to the Environmental Working Group, about 12,000 products sold in California use them.
An earlier version of the ban also covered titanium dioxide – used in products like Skittles – but was lifted in September. Therefore, the bill became known as the “Skittles ban.”
The European Union has already banned additives in food and forced companies to make changes accordingly.
The ban will come into force in January 2027. Companies found to be manufacturing, distributing or selling the products face fines of up to $10,000.
Other states like New York are considering similar bans.
Newsom announced he had signed the bill by attaching a pack of Skittles to the document.
He said: “This is demonstrable evidence of the food industry’s ability to maintain product lines while complying with varying public health laws from country to country.”
Jesse Gabriel, a Democrat for Woodland Hills who proposed the bill, said, “Today’s signature from the governor represents a major step in our efforts to protect California’s children and families from dangerous and toxic chemicals in our food supply.”
“It is 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 food or product – it simply requires that food companies make minor changes to their recipes and switch to safer alternative ingredients.”
“These are already being used in Europe and many other places around the globe.”
Brian Ronholm, director of food safety at Consumer Reports, said: “We have known for years that the toxic chemicals banned under California’s groundbreaking new law pose a serious threat to our health.”
“California has taken an important stand on food safety at a time when the FDA has failed to take action.”
“Safer versions of foods available in other countries should also be made available to U.S. consumers.”
Democrats in the state said their goal is not to completely ban the sale of all food in the state, but to get manufacturers to change their recipes.
Studies show that Red No. 3 – a food coloring in many candies – can cause cancer in laboratory animals at very high doses and is linked to behavioral problems in children.
The US banned it from cosmetic products in the 1990s, but it continues to be found in many foods sold in the US.
Two 2016 studies found that it was found in more than one in 10 sweets in the U.S. and more than 80 percent of children under two had consumed it in the previous two weeks.
Another substance set to be banned – brominated vegetable oil, which is made from plants and used to flavor citrus fruits – is said to cause damage to the body’s nervous system with prolonged exposure.
It has also been linked to the development of chronic headaches, memory loss and balance problems. It was previously included in the Mountain Dew soda until parent company Pepsi removed the ingredient in 2020.
Propylparaben, often used as a preservative in baked goods, has been linked to fertility problems in mice because it disrupts estrogen levels in females and reduces sperm counts in males.
Potassium bromate is also found in many baked goods, but has been linked to the development of thyroid and kidney cancer. It is often used in processed foods to help dough rise.
The National Confectioners Association – which represents confectionery companies – said: “They make decisions based on facts, not science.”
“We should rely on the FDA’s scientific accuracy when evaluating the safety of food ingredients and additives.”
A spokesman added that the law “replaces a unified national food safety system with a patchwork of inconsistent government requirements created by fiat that will increase food costs.”