Examining the California Restriction on Chemicals in Food

California is taking the lead in food safety by banning four potentially harmful food additives, becoming the first state in the U.S. to do so. The California Food Safety Act, signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, will take effect in 2027.

The banned additives include red dye No. 3, brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, and propylparaben, all of which have raised concerns about their potential health risks.

Red Dye No. 3:

  • This food coloring additive is present in over 3,200 consumer products.
  • The FDA still allows it in foods despite a 1990 ban on its use in cosmetics and externally applied drugs.
  • Concerns about potential health risks include its link to cancer in laboratory animals and its impact on hyperactivity and neurobehavioral problems in some children.

Brominated Vegetable Oil:

  • Brominated vegetable oil is added to some beverages to prevent citrus flavoring from separating.
  • The FDA acknowledges the need for further research on its health effects and is working to remove its authorization as a food ingredient.
  • It has been associated with certain neurological problems and can lead to increased tissue levels of bromine at high exposure levels, affecting the thyroid in rodents.

Potassium Bromate:

  • Used in bread and baked goods to improve dough.
  • When consumed at appropriate heat levels, it doesn’t appear to harm humans.
  • However, at significant doses, it has been found to harm DNA, and cells, and cause cancer in rodents.


  • Part of the paraben family is used as preservatives in cosmetics and, to some extent, in food.
  • The FDA permits its use in food at a maximum level of 0.1 percent.
  • It is classified as an “endocrine disruptor” and may impact hormone signaling, gene expression, and fertility.

California’s proactive approach to banning these additives reflects the state’s commitment to food safety and public health. While the FDA continues to monitor and reassess such additives, California’s new law sets a precedent for addressing potential risks in the food supply chain.

This action also underlines the importance of staying informed about the substances present in our food and advocating for policies that prioritize food safety and consumer health.

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