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What To Know: 4 Food Additives Banned in California

California became the first state to take a hard stance on chemical additives in food products. Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed The California Food Safety Act (AB 418) into law.

This new law which will take effect in 2027, bans four chemicals from all foods sold in California. The four chemicals outlawed are brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben and red dye No. 3. These will have to be removed in food products sold throughout the state.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Consumer Reports co-sponsored the law written by Assembly Member Jesse Gabriel.

An image of assorted spices, herbs, and other foods laid out on a table in different piles and bowls.

What are food additives?

  • Food additives are chemicals added to food for a variety of reasons. They may enhance flavor or appearance, preserve freshness and extend shelf life, or even alter the texture of the food. Sometimes additives are recognizable items like salt, pepper, or other spices. In other cases, artificially-produced chemical compounds are among the ingredient list.
  • More than 10,000 chemicals are allowed and used in processed foods sold in the US. But the specific chemicals outlined in California’s new law have been linked to negative health problems. Some of these health concerns include increased risk of cancer, neurological issues, and damage to the immune system. They also show links to endocrine disruption and harm to the reproductive system.
  • Some, especially red dye No. 3, have been linked to hyperactivity and behavioral issues in children. According to EWG, children have a lower tolerance to chemical toxins. Because of this, kids are especially more vulnerable to these adverse health effects.

What happens next with the California Food Safety Act?

California is the first state to demand this level of food safety. As long as the law remains in effect, it will change the way food is manufactured for many companies. This doesn’t mean products will be banned completely. But it will require companies to make minor modifications to their recipes for items sold in California. Since manufacturers wouldn’t likely change their recipe for only one state, it would prompt a change nationwide. This means more products would include more food-safe alternative ingredients. Many companies – like Coke, Pepsi, Dunkin Donuts and Panera – have already made their own decision to stop using these additives. It’s also important to note that the European Union (EU) banned these chemicals years ago. Potassium bromate, for example, has been banned in the EU since 1990. But the US still allows these chemicals in production. Because of EU bans, many food manufacturers already use alternative ingredients overseas. Most companies can likely make modifications with recipes they may already use in other countries. Assembly Member Jesse Gabriel says, “This marks a major step forward in our effort to protect children and families in California from dangerous and toxic chemicals in our food supply. It’s unacceptable that the U.S. is so far behind the rest of the world when it comes to banning these dangerous additives.” The EWG estimates manufacturers could modify ingredients in up to 12,000 products sold across the country, based on its food database.

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About True Citrus

At True Citrus, we’re committed to providing people with the best products possible. We stay true to the fruit and live by our promise of simple ingredients. All our products are made with ingredients you can pronounce. Ingredients like real citrus juices and oils. And without artificial sweeteners. We proudly make products that parents can feel good about passing along to their children. Our goal is to promote healthy hydration and happiness in every sip.

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