A bill has been introduced to the California Assembly that would amend existing legislation to prohibit red dye 40 and titanium dioxide, among other color additives, from food sold in California public schools. Assembly Bill (AB) 2316 was introduced by California Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-46), who was also behind the recently passed California Food Safety Act, which bans five other additives from manufacture or sale in the state.

­The most recent bill aims to ban seven ingredients from public school breakfasts and lunch, six of which are artificial food dyes associated with hyperactivity and behavioral issues—blue 1, blue 1, green 3, red 40, yellow 5, and yellow 6—as well as titanium dioxide, which was included in the original draft of the California Food Safety Act but was removed before the legislation was passed into law. Titanium dioxide is also used as a food colorant, and it is suspected to be genotoxic when ingested by humans.

The toxicity of titanium dioxide is a matter of recent debate. For example, in the EU where titanium dioxide is banned as a food additive, an EU court annulled the European Commission’s 2019 classification of the chemical as a carcinogen. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also maintains that titanium dioxide is safe as a food additive, while, in a recent safety assessment, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) were unable to specify an acceptable daily intake for the additive due to insufficient data.

If passed, AB 2316 would go into effect on January 1, 2025.