Source - Food & Beverage Litigation And Regulatory Update | Issue 810

California Gov. Signs Food Additive Bill, Groups Urge FDA to Act

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a first-in-the-nation bill banning four food additives, prompting a food industry group to call on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take action in response. The California Food Safety Act, which will take effect January 1, 2027, will ban the manufacture, sale or distribution in the state of any food product for human consumption containing brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben and Red Dye No. 3. An earlier version of the bill also prohibited titanium dioxide, but the additive was removed prior to the bill’s final passage.

Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills) sponsored the bill, which also received support from the Environmental Working Group and Consumer Reports, among other national organizations. In a statement, Gabriel said the law “represents a huge step in our effort to protect children and families in California from dangerous and toxic chemicals in our food supply.”

“It’s unacceptable that the U.S. is so far behind the rest of the world when it comes to food safety,” he said. “This bill will not ban any foods or products — it simply will require food companies to make minor modifications to their recipes and switch to safer alternative ingredients that they already use in Europe and so many other places around the globe.”

According to Confectionery Production, John Downs, president and CEO of the National Confectioners Association, wrote a letter to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf requesting that the agency defend its “legal, fiduciary and moral responsibility as our nation’s chief and centralized food safety agency and demonstrate that its science-based regulatory rigor and leadership has helped make the U.S. food system the envy of the world.”

Downs reportedly said the law is likely to spur similar laws in other states, creating a patchwork of requirements for U.S. food manufacturers. Further, he reportedly argued, some ingredients subject to the ban have limited or no alternatives, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has estimated that developing and obtaining FDA approval for a safe replacement for a color additive could take a decade or longer.

“It’s time for the FDA to get off the sidelines and clear up this misinformation because California is out of its depth regarding national food safety standards and regulatory processes,” he said. “That expertise and authority rests with the FDA alone. Unlike FDA’s processes, the legislative process is not transparent and does not solicit and consider stakeholder feedback to decide based on the totality of scientific and real-world evidence.”

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