Why California could ban Skittles and candy with red dye, ‘dangerous and toxic’ ingredients

California lawmakers could ban Skittles, Ring Pops, Hot Tamales and other popular candies and foods in an effort to push manufacturers to remove certain food dyes and other “dangerous and toxic” ingredients.

Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel, D-Woodland Hills, and Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, last month introduced a bill that would prevent the sale, manufacture or distribution of foods that contain red dye No. 3, titanium dioxide, potassium bromate, brominated vegetable oil and propylparaben.

Skittles contain titanium dioxide, and Ring Pops and Hot Tamales have red dye No. 3, both of which give the candies a brighter, more colorful appearance. The ingredients are present in thousands of other food products, from fruit cups to baked goods, according to an Environmental Working Group database.

All of the dyes and ingredients Assembly Bill 418 would ban are currently prohibited by European Union regulators because of their links to elevated cancer risks, child behavioral concerns and other health issues, according to a release from Gabriel’s office.

“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,” Gabriel said in a statement. “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.”

Consumer and health advocates in October petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban red dye No. 3, and a California resident in July filed a lawsuit against multinational foodmaker Mars over the alleged toxicity of titanium dioxide.

Cosmetics companies are no longer allowed to use red dye No. 3 in their products, but the FDA still allows it in foods, according to Consumer Reports.

Gabriel told the Los Angeles Times and other media outlets he is a fan of the very candies he is trying to ban. The assemblyman doesn’t want to get rid of the foods, he just wants to see the companies that produce them remove the ingredients in question.

“I think the overwhelming likelihood of what’s going to happen would be that they would make minor modifications to their recipes,” Gabriel told the Times.