Statement of CSPI Principal Scientist for Additives and Supplements Thomas Galligan

Illinois has taken a critical step toward protecting consumers from unsafe food additives with today’s bipartisan passage of the Illinois Food Safety Act, SB2637, out of the state Senate. This bill will ban the use of four unsafe and unnecessary additives—brominated vegetable oil (BVO), potassium bromate, propylparaben, and Red 3—from foods sold in the state starting in 2028. We are grateful for Senator Willie Preston’s leadership on this bill and urge the Illinois House of Representatives and Governor Pritzker to act swiftly.

The Illinois Food Safety Act offers much-needed protections for consumers throughout Illinois. Each of the four substances targeted by this bill have been banned or heavily restricted in the European Union due to health concerns but remain federally legal in the United States. Suitable, safer alternatives are already available to the food and beverage industries, having already been phased out of the European market.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration concluded more than 34 years ago that Red 3, a synthetic food dye banned from use in topical drugs and cosmetics, is an animal carcinogen, but has failed to ban it from use in our foods—a clear violation of its obligations under the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act. Red 3 is only allowed in certain kinds of cherries in the EU. BVO, potassium bromate, and propylparaben are fully banned from food in the EU, having been linked to cancer or toxic effects on the heart, reproductive, or endocrine systems. Despite these documented health concerns and EU restrictions, the FDA has failed to act. 

If this bill passes the House and is signed into law by Governor Pritzker, Illinois will become the second state, following California, to ban the use of these four chemicals in foods. Similar bills are currently being considered in several other states.

All Americans deserve foods free from these unsafe chemicals. As with the California Food Safety Act, we hope the Illinois bill inspires other state legislatures to move quickly and prompts the FDA and the food industry to take nationwide action. The momentum is swelling, and industry reformulation and FDA action are long overdue. 


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