Personally, whenever I see a bag of colored Skittles or M&M’s, I cringe. Y’all might give me heat for not liking them, but let me tell you, colored candy and added dye to foods just doesn’t sit right with me. Of course from a marketing standpoint, having brightly colored foods can trigger our brains to produce more “happy” chemicals, making us associate vivid colorful foods with joyful feelings, along with making the products more appealing for younger audiences. Although when you truly think about it, we aren’t completely aware of what these color dyes are made of. Most of us are never completely educated on what we put in our bodies when we buy from these name brands, but recently, the California State Legislature has just given us some insight on certain food additives that can actually do some pretty bad damage to your body.
Assembly Bill 418 is a legislature law that regulates the safety of food products in retail factories. The establishment of the bill is slated to take effect on January 1, 2027, ultimately disabling a company or individual from selling, delivering, administering, or possessing in commerce “food products for human consumption that contains any specified substance, including, among others, brominated vegetable oil and red dye no.3.” Jesse Gabriel, an Assembly Member for the state of California was the one to pass this bill, along with Buffy Wicks praising the accomplishment describing it as a win for public health. With California taking their own action, the public is now pressuring the Food and Drug Administration to do the same.
These additives have been utilized by multiple companies for many purposes, all to make the product more compelling to potential consumers. These additives aren’t only applied to food. Red No.3’s controversy predates this recent dispute, dating back to the 90’s when the dye had been banned from makeup products by the FDA after discovering from an experiment that the dye causes cancer in rats, which was run and tested in animal labs. Despite this, medicinal and food industries still use these dyes in their products to give to consumers, allowing the flashy look to reel customers in so their products seem bright and fresh.
Medically, all parties would benefit from the permanent banning of harmful additives in products we consume, but Christopher Gindlespeger, Senior VP of Public Affairs & Communications for the National Confectioners Association, highlights how the ban would affect the economy, forcing these companies to pay more for healthier substitutions, creating a surge in the product’s prices in order to pay off for the cost of intermediate goods. In Gindlesperger’s letter to the FDA, he claims that California is “out of its depths when it comes to national food safety standards.”
Many people believe that banning the dye is the most effective action available with the given information, but others like Thomas Galligan, a scientist from the Center of Science in the Public Interest, states that the data collected isn’t enough to establish the direct effect of the dye.
Red No.3 dye is heavily restricted among the European Union, and the State’s conflicting views are preventing us from doing the same. The debate is still ongoing, and hopefully our government leaders and professional data analysts will come to a conclusion on how to approach the situation. Until then be mindful of what you eat.
By Jada Strong, Sophomore at Whitney Young Magnet
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