Prepare for a startling revelation before indulging in your next pack of Skittles: California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation some call the “Skittles ban” into law on Oct. 7. The law prohibits manufacturing, selling, or distributing brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben, and Red Dye 3. These additives, never FDA-approved for consumption, have raised concerns about potential health risks. Thereby, prompting calls for their removal and a nationwide battle for food safety.
Skittles Ban in California: Food Safety Measures
Scheduled to take effect in 2027, the law grants businesses with 3 year grace period to reformulate their products, excluding these harmful substances. Although many food additives serve purposes like enhancing flavor or preserving freshness, some, including those addressed in the California Food Safety Act, have been linked to severe health issues. For instance, Red Dye 3 has been linked to animal cancers and, alarmingly, continues to persist in our food supply despite being banned in cosmetics since 1990.
The absence of FDA review accentuated the regulatory gap surrounding these chemicals, which are found in about 12,000 products.
“Bills like these protect consumers from products that are known, long-term, to cause cancer, behavioral issues in children, and disrupt the endocrine system,” CD Law co-founder Vineet Dubey said. “The FDA is slow to act, and these chemicals have already been banned in multiple countries that have studied their health effects.”
“All of these products sold in the U.S. containing these additives are sold in other countries without them, so consumers should not expect to see anything different between a package of Skittles they buy now and one they buy four years from now. Companies have already shown they can remove the chemicals and replicate the product without much effect. Peeps has already announced they are doing so and their newly formulated candies are already being sold in Europe,” Dubey said.
California’s trailblazing initiative has inspired other states, such as New York, where a similar bill is advancing through the legislature. This proposed legislation mirrors California’s resolve, targeting the same four chemicals alongside titanium dioxide, marking a nationwide movement toward safer, meticulously regulated food products.
“California’s $3.3 trillion economy, like it or not, is larger than that of some entire countries. When California passes a bill that affects 12,000 products containing harmful additives, which are sold across the nation, that change often leads manufacturers to reformulate their recipes for the whole U.S. market,” added Dubey, whose litigation through the years has resulted in manufacturers removing or reformulating thousands of dangerous products. “California leads the way in consumer protection and health, so we do think other states, and potentially the federal government, will eventually follow suit.”