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California State Seeks to Regulate Chemicals in Food

California introduced assembly bill 418 in February 2023. The measure would restrict use of five chemicals in food as early as 2025. Chemicals of interest include red dye no. 3 and titanium dioxide.

Cropped shot of young Asian woman carrying a shopping basket, standing along the dairy aisle, reading the nutrition label on the bottle of a fresh organic healthy yoghurt.

April 19, 2023

By Krystal Spickler, program manager, Supply Chain team, UL Solutions 

In February 2023, California lawmakers announced a first-of-its-kind bill seeking to eliminate chemicals of concern in food. 

California AB 418 would prohibit the manufacture, sale, delivery, distribution or holding of food products containing the below substances, starting Jan. 1, 2025:

  • Brominated vegetable oil (CAS no. 8016-94-2) 
  • Potassium bromate (CAS no. 7758-01-2) 
  • Propylparaben (CAS no. 94-13-3)
  • Red dye 3 (CAS no. 16423-68-0)
  • Titanium dioxide (CAS no. 13463-67-7)

The chemicals of interest are all currently banned in food for sale in the European Union, based on scientific evidence linking them to health concerns such as behavioral issues in children, cancer, and damage to immune and respiratory function.

Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (one of the bill’s introducers) stated in a press release, “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.” Though the chemicals are permitted for use in food at a federal level and prevalent in the market, several US-based grocery stores and restaurant brands already restrict use in their own products. Red dye no. 3 is disclosed on product labels as ‘FD&C Red No. 3’.

At the same time, a group of organizations led by the Center for Science in the Public Interest brought forward a petition to the FDA that requests a revocation of §§ 74.303 and 74.1303 of the Food Drug and Cosmetics Act, which currently allows the use of Red No. 3 in foods (as well as dietary supplements) and drugs for ingestion. This petition was formally filed in November 2022 and was published in the Federal Register on Feb. 17, 2023. Comments are open to the public and the period was recently extended to May 18, 2023.


California - AB-418 Food product safety
Federal Register: Filing of Color Additive Petition; Request To Revoke Color Additive Listing for Use of FD&C Red No. 3 in Food and Ingested Drugs

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