Is the “Skittles Ban” Legit? Here’s What California’s New Law Really Means

Is the “Skittles Ban” Legit? Here’s What California’s New Law Really Means

Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed the California Food Safety Act into law, making California the first state in the country to ban the use of certain food additives. The new law prohibits the use of the additives brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben, and red dye No. 3.

These additives show up in a ranged of processed foods, including some cereals and candies, earning the new act a nickname: the “Skittles ban.” But what is the California Food Safety Act, exactly, and are Skittles actually banned under it? Here’s the deal.

What Is the Skittles Ban?

The California Food Safety Act, aka Assembly Bill 418 (or the “Skittles ban”) prohibits anyone or any company from making, selling, delivering, distributing, holding, or offering for sale any food that contains brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben, and red dye No. 3.

The bill says that people in violation of the law will face up to $5,000 in fines for a first violation and up to $10,000 in fines for additional violations. The bill will go into effect on January 1, 2027.

Are Skittles Banned in California?

They’re not. There’s been a lot of buzz around Skittles being “banned” in California. But Newsom addressed this in a letter to the state assembly after signing the bill into law, noting that “there have been many misconceptions about this bill and its impacts.”

The bill isn’t banning skittles, but rather those four key additives used in skittles and other cereals and candies. Companies will be expected to tweak their recipes to comply with the law.

“Companies are capable of making products without this dye,” says Jamie Alan, PhD, an associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University. “So, no, [Skittles] will not be banned.”

In the letter addressing the passing of the California Food Safety Act, Newsom specifically called out Skittles and included a photo of a Skittles bag from the European Union, he said which bans several chemical additives and colors. “This is demonstrable proof that the food industry is capable of maintaining product lines while complying with different public health laws, country-to-country,” he wrote. “Further, this bill’s implementation is delayed until 2027 — significant time for brands to revise their recipes to avoid these harmful chemicals. Californians will still be able to access and enjoy their favorite food products, with greater confidence in the safety of such products.”

Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, who wrote the law, tells POPSUGAR he’s “absolutely elated” that it was passed. He also stressed this: “Skittles will not be banned. I would vote against anything that would ban Skittles. I love Wild Berry Skittles.”

Melanie Benesh, vice president of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group, added, “there’s no realistic chance that this bill will result in any products, including Skittles, being pulled from shelves. Companies will simply change their recipes to match what they’re already selling in other places where red dye No. 3, propyl paraben, potassium bromate, and BVO are banned.”

Why Are The Additives Being Banned?

The ingredients called out in the new law all have questionable safety profiles, Benesh says. “The Food and Drug Administration banned many uses of red dye No. 3 in 1990, including in cosmetics, citing studies showing that very high doses of this dye can cause cancer. But the FDA failed to ban red dye No. 3 in food.” (Some studies have also linked red dye No.3 to hyperactivity and decreased attention spans in kids.)

“Some children are particularly sensitive to the negative health effects of food dyes,” Benesh says. “Children are likely being exposed to dyes like red dye No. 3 at higher rates than adults because these additives are most frequently found in processed foods like candy and cookies.”

Gabriel also notes that these ingredients are banned in many other countries. “Dozens of chemicals that are banned in other parts of the world are somehow still allowed in food in the US,” he says. “It makes no sense to me.” He also says he was shocked when he discovered that red dye No.3 is prohibited in cosmetics but allowed in food. “The government said this is too toxic to put on your face, but somehow it’s OK to eat. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out this is crazy,” he says.

What Will Happen to Skittles in 2027?

The law gives manufacturers three years to change their recipes and make “minor modifications” to comply with the law.

Daniel Ganjian, MD, a pediatrician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., says that consumers are unlikely to even realize the difference. “There are so many alternatives that the switch will happen quickly, seamlessly, and without an observed difference in taste or appearance,” he tells POPSUGAR.

Gabriel says he expects this will have an impact on legislation across the country, noting that he’s heard from lawmakers in other states about creating something similar. He also anticipates that companies will just switch their recipes across the country. “It’s highly unlikely that someone is going to make one candy for California and another candy for Oklahoma,” he says. “This will likely have an impact beyond California.”

Source link