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Why could Skittles, Pez and Sour Patch Kids be banned in California?

A new law could pull popular candies, including, Skittles, Pez, and Sour Patch Kids, from store shelves in California. What is motivating the possible ban?

Cofepris retira lotes de “Skittles” “Salvavidas” y “Life Savers” por posible contaminación

A bill circulating in Sacramento could require the removal of some beloved candies due to the additives they contain that have been liked to various forms of cancer.

Assembly Bill 418, introduced by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, will come to the floor for a vote later in the legislative session and, if passed, could require the removal of Skittles, Pez, Sour Patch Kids, and other candies from store shelves. The ban would go into effect on 1 January 2025.

Why is California looking to ban these candies?

“A first-of-its-kind measure, Assembly Bill (AB) 418 would prohibit the manufacture, sale, or distribution of any food product in California containing Red Dye No. 3, Titanium Dioxide, Potassium Bromate, Brominated Vegetable Oil, or Propyl Paraben,” reads a press release put out by Assemblymember Gabriel’s office.

Red Dye No. 3 was banned in cosmetics in 1990, and many public health experts do not see any logical coherence on the side of regulators to allow it to remain in the country’s food. Today, this chemical is added to hundreds of products, including some produced by Betty Crocker and Hostess.

The lawmaker’s team also noted that these chemicals are prohibited in the European Union “due to scientific studies that have demonstrated significant public health harms, including increased risk of cancer, behavioral issues in children, harm to the reproductive system, and damage to the immune system.”

These additives are used to extend the shelf life of candies while also improving taste and are particularly dangerous for children.

Gabriel’s team also noted that “most of these chemicals have never been independently evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or were last reviewed decades ago.” Loopholes in federal law allowed for these chemicals to be added to food without FDA evaluation, which was initially implemented to reduce the regulatory process for “common household ingredients like vinegar.

If California goes through with the ban, it will become the first state to take such strong action. So far, the bill has been sent to the chamber’s health committee for comments, and if approved by that subset of lawmakers, could soon come to the floor for a vote.