California passes ban on food chemicals as panel discusses role of states
|The California Legislature on Tuesday passed a bill, the California Food Safety Act, that would end the use of brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propyl paraben and Red Dye No. 3 in popular food products sold in the state.|
The chemicals are linked to serious health problems, such as a higher risk of cancer, nervous system damage and hyperactivity, state Rep. Jesse Gabriel, a Democrat, said in a news release.
He noted that European regulators have already banned the four substances from use in food, with the narrow exception of Red No. 3 in candied cherries. The bill will now go to the desk of Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, to be signed.
“We are thrilled to move A.B. 418 to Gov. Newsom’s desk. This marks a major step forward in our effort to protect children and families in California from dangerous and toxic chemicals in our food supply,” said Gabriel, chair of the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection. “It’s unacceptable that the U.S. is so far behind the rest of the world when it comes to banning these dangerous additives.”
“Toxic chemicals that have been shown to cause cancer and other chronic health problems should not be allowed in our food,” said Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports.
“Unfortunately, the FDA hasn’t taken action to protect the public, despite the well-documented risks these harmful food chemicals pose to our health. We applaud state lawmakers for voting to ban these hazardous chemicals from food and urge Gov. Newsom to sign this landmark legislation into law,” Ronholm said.
Meanwhile, in Washington, Ronholm and others on a panel at the Consumer Federation of America National Food Policy Conference said that the states continue to act on questionable chemicals because the federal government has been unable to take action.
“When the feds are inactive, states must act,” Ronholm said.
The thing that spurs national action is state action, added Brian Kavanagh, who represents Manhattan in the New York state Senate.
Martin Hahn, a partner in the global regulatory practice at Hogan Lovells, noted that when Vermont announced it would ban genetically modified foods, executives at food companies said at first they would not sell foods in Vermont, but eventually realized that they needed to seek federal regulation to avoid varying state regulations across the country.
Ag & Politics