The bill’s main goal is to require foods that contain certain substances—those known as endocrine disruptors and classified by the European Union as likely carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction—to be labelled. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals found in pesticides, food packaging, cosmetics and other products that can interfere with hormones in the body. The California bill would require warning labels on food packages if they contain one of nearly 800 potentially dangerous chemicals. While opponents argue that this bill could lead to confusion among consumers, supporters contend it will help people make informed decisions about what they put into their bodies. While the potential health repercussions of these chemicals have yet to be determined conclusively, studies suggest certain levels may be harmful over time. By being aware of which products may contain them and at what level, consumers can take steps to protect themselves where possible while companies continue to research safe limits.
Assembly Bill 418 prohibits food products containing red dye No. 3 from being manufactured, sold or distributed in California. If passed, the ban would take effect on January 1, 2025.
The bill was created due to mounting evidence showing the adverse effects of these dyes and additives on human health. Studies have found that red dye No. 3 can cause cancer and congenital disabilities in animals and harm the endocrine system. The bill would also limit access to certain food products that contain these ingredients, such as candy and soda, which may help reduce the consumption of unhealthy foods. The passage of this bill is an important step towards improving public health in California by reducing exposure to potentially dangerous chemicals in our food supply. It will help ensure that children are not exposed to potentially harmful substances through their diet and give parents greater control over what their children eat. Additionally, it could lead other states to adopt similar regulations on food colouring agents used for commercial purposes.
“We know that red dye. No. 3 is a carcinogen, and our children’s health should not be put at risk,” Birnbaum said. “The longer we delay removing this dangerous chemical from food products, the more vulnerable our children are to potential long-term health risks,” Birnbaum noted that while it may take time for companies to reformulate their products without the use of artificial colouring agents like red dye No. 3, the potential benefits far outweigh any transitional costs associated with making the switch. She emphasized that it was important to act quickly to protect public health, especially given how widely used these compounds are in everyday foods and beverages Americans consume daily.
The FDA also recommends avoiding foods with a long list of artificial colours and flavours, as those may contain Red dye No. 3. Generally, it’s best to stick to natural sources for food colouring wherever possible, such as beetroot powder or spirulina extract. Natural dyes from vegetables and fruits are safer and can provide additional nutrients you won’t find in artificial dyes like red dye No. 3.