California ‘Skittles Ban’ Advances to Governor’s Desk, Here’s What It Means for Consumers

Alex Harsha
Alex HarshaSep 14, 2023, 9:51 AM
California 'Skittles Ban' Advances to Governor's Desk, Here's What It Means for Consumers

Lawmakers believe it could have a ripple effect across the country.

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The California Food Safety Act, a bill that will ban some food additives found in popular packaged snacks, is one step closer to becoming a reality.

On Tuesday, California lawmakers voted and passed the bill, which is now on its way to the state’s Governor, Gavin Newsom. If passed, the bill will go into effect in 2027 and bar ingredients, which are already banned in other nations for their potential health hazards, from being added to candies like Skittles.

According to The Los Angeles Times, if passed, the bill would ban both the manufacture and sale of brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben, and red dye No. 3. The first three are all outright banned across Europe, while red dye No. 3 is only permitted for use in candied and cocktail cherries on the continent, according to CNET. The Food and Drug Administration banned the use of red dye No. 3 in cosmetics in the early ‘90s after lab testing showed it cause cancer in mice. If companies continue to use these chemicals, they will be fined $5,000 for the first offense and up to $10,000 for every subsequent offense, the bill states. The original bill included banning titanium dioxide, but it has since been taken out.

Related: California Lawmaker Proposes Ban on Skittles

“We know they are harmful and that children are likely being exposed at a much higher rate than adults,” Susan Little, senior advocate for California government affairs at the activist organization Environmental Working Group, shared with CNET. “It makes no sense that the same products food manufacturers sell in California are sold in the EU but without these toxic chemicals. Our kids need to be protected, too.”

And it appears California lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are attempting to do just that.

“Today’s bipartisan vote marks a huge step forward in our effort to protect children and families in California from dangerous and toxic chemicals in our food supply,” Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills), who co-sponsored the bill, shared in a release. “It’s unacceptable that the U.S. is so far behind the rest of the world when it comes to food safety.”

Gabriel made it clear that the bill is not an attack on any one particular snack — especially Skittles, a candy that has become the face of the bill and one that the lawmaker says he still heartily enjoys. As he told The Times, “I love Skittles. I love Wild Berry Skittles. I eat them all the time,” adding, “I would vote against a bill to ban Skittles.” What he does want, however, is for companies to change their recipes.

“What we’re really trying to get them to do is to change their recipes,” Gabriel told The Times in a previous interview. “All of these are nonessential ingredients.”

“It’s going to make our food supply much safer,” Gabriel additionally told NBC, noting the bill could have great unintended consequences for the entire nation, as manufacturers would likely not tailor their product just for California, making food safer for all. “It’s going to give parents more confidence that when they’re buying foods at the grocery store, they don’t have to worry that there’s something in there that’s dangerous for their kids.”

Newsom has until October 14, 2023, to consider signing the bill into law.

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    Alex Harsha
    Alex Harsha

    Alex Harsha is a full-time writer.Before becoming a full-time writer, Alex was a public school teacher. He teaches writing workshops to children and adults. Lives in Connecticut &amp; Works on next novel.

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