In October, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law banning four common food additives: Red Dye No. 3, potassium bromate, brominated vegetable oil and propylparaben.
That might not seem like news to the rest of the country, but what nearly 40 million Californians eat (or don't eat) has an impact on pretty much everybody else. It's not like there will be junk food for Californians and junk food for the rest of us. And, in fact, other states are already considering similar laws.
Red Dye No. 3 is the most common of the newly banned additives, used as a colorant in red and pink icings, drinks and candies. Potassium bromate acts as a leavening agent in baked goods. Brominated vegetable oil is primarily found in citrus-flavored store-brand sodas where it works as a stabilizer for the flavor oils. Propylparaben is a preservative, often used in packaged baked goods such as breads, pastries and tortillas.
All four chemicals have been linked to cancer, reproductive issues and neurobehavioral concerns. The primary impetus is protecting children, because these additives may affect the endocrine system, which controls hormone functions in the body.
But if the thought of your favorite packaged doughnut suddenly lacking the oomph of, say, a dash of potassium bromate has you worried, don't panic just yet. The law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2027, giving manufacturers time to tweak their recipes.
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