California Bill Would Crack Down on Candy

Newly proposed legislation would ban a host of additives commonly found in candy and snacks.

A bill proposed by a California state lawmaker could force some of the world’s largest food producers to make sweeping changes to some of their flagship products — or face a ban in a state of nearly 40 million people.

State Rep. Jesse Gabriel introduced Assembly Bill 418 last month in an effort to remove chemicals deemed “dangerous” or “toxic” from grocery shelves. The ingredients targeted by the measure, the Los Angeles Times reports, are permitted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration but linked to various health problems — among them, titanium dioxide, red dye no. 3, potassium bromate and brominated vegetable oil.

The proposal drew headlines, however, due in large part to the noteworthy products and brands that would be affected, from breakfast cereals and snack mixes to candies and sodas, including iconic brands such as Skittles and Mountain Dew.

A bill to ban Skittles, understandably, is bound to draw skepticism and ridicule from some corners — and has already sparked pushback from the food industry. The companies say the products and their ingredients are safe, and industry groups contend the measure would usurp federal oversight of food safety.

Gabriel, however, argued that his measure would simply correct a “concerning” lack of oversight from federal authorities. The chemicals, he said, are linked to immune system problems, an increased risk of cancer, and hyperactivity in children.

And although the bill would make California the first state to restrict those substances, global food companies needed to previously remove them in order to sell their products in the E.U., where they are already banned. Gabriel told USA Today that there was a “0%” chance his bill would end up banning Skittles — a candy, by the way, he says he’s partial to.

A hearing on the proposal is scheduled for April 11. Passage in the current legislative session is reportedly considered unlikely, but, if successful, observers said it would likely mean overhauling recipes for the entire U.S. market.

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