California Assembly Bill 418, also called the California Food Safety Act, which aims to prohibit four food additives from being used or sold in the state due to associated health risks, recently passed the state Senate and is waiting to be signed into law by Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom. If it becomes law, the bill would ban brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben, and red dye 3 from foods in California beginning January 1, 2027.

Specifically, the bill would prohibit the manufacture, sale, delivery, distribution, holding, or offering for sale of the four remaining chemicals in foods produced for human consumption. Violation of the California Food Safety Act would be punishable by a civil penalty not to exceed $5,000 for a first violation and not to exceed $10,000 for each subsequent violation. The bill originally included a fifth substance, titanium dioxide, in its list of targeted chemicals, but it was removed days before passing the Senate due to a lack of bipartisan support.

Originally introduced in March 2023 by Assembly member Jesse Gabriel (D-46), the bill aims to “correct a concerning lack of federal oversight” due to “loopholes” in U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) processes. Brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben, and red dye 3 are already prohibited as food additives in the EU due to the possibility that they carry health consequences like cancer, behavioral and developmental issues in children, and harm to the reproductive system. Red dye 3 is also banned by FDA from use in cosmetics. However, the chemicals are legally used in processed foods sold to U.S. consumers.

When he introduced the bill, Gabriel wanted to address FDA’s process of determining food additives as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS), which he said provides “almost no meaningful federal oversight.” FDA responded with a statement specifying that each of the substances targeted by AB 418 have undergone review by FDA, as required by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act.