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California lawmakers propose banning popular food dye

The red food dye can be found in thousands of products, including fruit cups, ice cream and yogurt.
California lawmakers propose banning popular food dye
Posted at 1:09 PM, Mar 24, 2023

Legislation was introduced this month in California that would ban the sale of a popular food dye.

California Assembly Bill No. 418 would ban the sale of red dye No. 3, along with several other chemicals. According to the Environmental Working Group, red dye No. 3 is found in nearly 3,000 food products. The items range from mixed fruit to ice cream, yogurt, protein drinks, and candy. 

Although allowed in food, it is prohibited in cosmetics. 

The World Health Organization analyzed a number of studies on erythrosine, which makes red dye No. 3, and concluded that “dietary exposures to erythrosine for all age groups do not present a health concern.” It noted a risk is posed by high doses and not normal consumption.

That is despite findings that the dye can increase thyroid cancer risk among some rats. 

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Advocates, however, say red dye 3 and similar chemicals should be banned from food. The bill would also prohibit titanium dioxide, potassium bromate, brominated vegetable oil, and propylparaben from being used in food.

“Californians shouldn’t have to worry that the food they buy in their neighborhood grocery store might be full of dangerous additives or toxic chemicals,” said Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, co-sponsor of the legislation. “This bill will correct for a concerning lack of federal oversight and help protect our kids, public health, and the safety of our food supply.”

The Food and Drug Administration considers these chemicals as “generally recognized as safe.”

“General recognition of safety through scientific procedures is based upon the application of generally available and accepted scientific data, information, or methods, which ordinarily are published, as well as the application of scientific principles, and may be corroborated by the application of unpublished scientific data, information, or methods,” the FDA said.

California would become the first state to ban these chemicals in food if the bill is approved.