On May 15, 2023, the California State Assembly passed first-of-its-kind legislation that would prohibit the use of certain dangerous and toxic chemicals in processed foods and drinks.

Authored by Democratic Assembly member Jesse Gabriel representing Woodland Hills, Assembly Bill (AB) 418 would prohibit the manufacture, sale, or distribution of any food product in California containing red dye 3, titanium dioxide, potassium bromate, brominated vegetable oil, or propyl paraben. Such chemicals are already banned in the EU and many other jurisdictions due to scientific research linking them to significant health harms, including cancer, reproductive issues, and behavioral and developmental issues in children.

Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated the connection between the chemical additives named in AB 418 and alarming health outcomes, including increased risk of cancer, behavioral issues in children, harm to the reproductive system, and damage to the immune system. As a result, the EU and many other nations already have prohibited their use in food, and many major brands and manufacturers—including Coke, Pepsi, Gatorade, Dunkin Donuts, Papa John’s Pizza, and Panera—have voluntarily stopped using these additives in their products.

In the U.S., however, chemical companies have been able to continue selling these chemicals as food additives. If signed into law, AB 418 would require companies to make modifications to recipes for products sold in California containing these chemicals, and likely prompt a nationwide transition to more food-safe alternatives.

AB 418 will next move to the California Senate, where it is expected to be heard in committees in the coming weeks.

Update, June 30, 2023: The California Senate Committee on Health approved AB 418, and it will move forward in the Senate.