California legislators ban carcinogen Red 3 and other additives from foods and beverages sold in the state

Red liquid with ripples

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Statement of CSPI President Dr. Peter G. Lurie

With the passage of Assembly Bill 418, the state of California is poised to become the first state in the country to protect consumers from four food additives—the food dye Red 3, potassium bromate, brominated vegetable oil, and propylparaben. These additives are linked to increased risk of cancer and reproductive issues. We are grateful for the leadership of Assemblymembers Jessie Gabriel and Buffy Wicks, and for that of our allies at Environmental Working Group and Consumer Reports. We urge Governor Gavin Newsom to sign the bill into law. 

Red 3 is acknowledged by the Food and Drug Administration to be a carcinogen. It is for that reason that in 1990 the FDA banned it from cosmetics like lipstick. Incredibly, the agency has still not eliminated Red 3 from the food supply. It is our hope that the California bill—and similar legislation advancing in the New York State legislature—captures the attention of the FDA and inspires it to take overdue action on our petition to protect all Americans from this unnecessary carcinogen.  

The California bill gives the food industry until 2027 to eliminate Red 3 and the other additives, which is more than enough time for food companies to come into compliance. After all, many of the very same food companies have already eliminated these additives in foods they market in Europe, where regulators are a step ahead of the FDA. 

If consumers need credible, science-based advice on the safety of the additives variously used to season, process, preserve, or color our foods, our Chemical Cuisine guide to food additives is a good place to start. 

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