Remember the debacle over the red M&Ms? Red Dye no.2 making kids “hyper,” and being carcinogenic? How about when Mars and other candy companies suddenly under the spotlight for using toxic chemicals in their confections? Well, clearly some companies don’t.
Which is why the California State Assembly has introduced a bill to ban the sale of Skittles, Hot Tamales, and other confections that use harmful chemicals. In 2016, Mars made a pledge to remove harmful dyes and chemicals from their candies by February 2021. Well, February came and went, and Mars continues to use their exact same formulas to make candy.
Perhaps they thought that a span of five years would make everyone forget the issues altogether. But last year, Skittles came under fire for the chemical used to give the confections their bright colors. A lawsuit filed against the company sited Skittles as “unfit for human consumption” due to using titanium dioxide. Said lawsuit even referred to Mars’ pledge to go chemical-free in the creation of their candies. Furthermore, the arguments made in the lawsuit state that many brightly-colored sweets, such as Sour Patch Kids and Swedish Fish, prove the unnecessary use of the chemical. Regardless of these points, Mars claims that the amount of titanium dioxide used is FDA approved. Likely why they haven’t even bothered to make good on their pledge.
Either Change Formulas, Or Bye-Bye in California
Mars isn’t the only confectioner that’ll be facing a California ban. Companies like Just Born and Tootsie Roll ALSO use these chemicals. Bill AB-418 was introduced by Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel. It looks to ban any confection that uses harmful chemicals. Specifically, Red Dye No. 3, Titanium Dioxide, Potassium Bromate, Brominated Vegetable Oil, or Propyl Paraben. More than once, these chemicals have been linked to behavioral problems in children, heightened cancer risk, and immune system issues. Yet companies continue to use it regardless. If this bill passes, food manufacturers that use them will face a challenge. Either change their formulas to continue selling in California, or take the loss and distribute elsewhere.
“Californians shouldn’t have to worry that the food they buy in their neighborhood grocery store might be full of dangerous additives or toxic chemicals…This bill will correct for a concerning lack of federal oversight and help protect our kids, public health and the safety of our food supply,” Gabriel siad. It’s not an unfounded concern. According to Gabriel, how these chemicals are continually used is due to old laws. A loophole in federal law, specifically. This loophole allows these companies to use small percentages of harmful chemicals due to the GRAS law. GRAS stands for “generally recognized as safe”, but it was meant to apply to common ingredients like vinegar. NOT carcinogenic chemicals.
We’ll have to wait and see what the outcome of this will be. Either these companies will suddenly find a means of producing their confections without the use of chemicals. Or Californians will have to say goodbye to some extremely popular candies. We can’t deny our love for some of these favorites, so here’s hoping food companies will step up to keep from being locked out.