California Advances First U.S. Ban On Toxic Chemicals In Processed Foods

California Advances First U.S. Ban On Toxic Chemicals In Processed Foods

The consumption of processed foods and ultra-processed foods can lead to a long list of health issues. Studies have shown that these foods increase the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, and more. These foods are convenient, but far from healthy, yet a large percentage of the U.S. population eats them on a regular basis. 

In April 2023, the California Assembly’s Committee of Health officially approved a bill that would ban five harmful chemicals in processed foods. The California Assembly approved this bill in May 2023. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is one of the bill’s co-sponsors, and it relayed that California would be the first state to impose such a prohibition if the bill becomes law. 

5 Chemicals On the CA Ban List

Legislation A.B. 418 would ban the use of the following chemicals in candy, cereals, and other processed foods:

  • Brominated vegetable oil
  • Potassium bromate
  • Propyl paraben
  • Red dye no. 3
  • Titanium dioxide

Brominated Vegetable Oil

One research study noted that brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is a food additive used in certain fruit-flavored beverages as a density stabilizer for citrus oil emulsions. BVO is prepared by the reaction of liquid bromine with unsaturated vegetable oils. It presents a high density and you can typically find it in soda. Historically, BVO has been associated with a long list of health issues in animal studies. A study from 1983 fed adult rats diets containing BVO at different amounts for two weeks before mating. The rats consumed the same diets through gestation and lactation for the female rats. The offspring also consumed BVO. In 2% of the diet, BVO completely blocked reproduction. At 1%, the rats experienced impaired conception, smaller litter size, and lowered maternal weight. Postnatal mortality rate was also high, with survivors showing severe behavioral impairments. At 0.5%, the rats experienced severe behavioral impairments and post weaning activity. 

Potassium Bromate

Many health experts are shocked that potassium bromate is used in food products. The International Agency of Research on Cancer described potassium bromate as highly toxic. It produces oxidative DNA damage in rat kidneys, and there is evidence that Available data suggests evidence of genetic toxicity and that it may cause renal tumors via oxidative DNA damage. Potassium bromate is a food additive that has been associated with disturbed blood biochemistry in animal research. It’s typically used in bread-making, and it can be toxic to bakers. In fact, one study on bakers in Cameroon noted that they experienced painful eyes, cough, diarrhea, and sore throat as a result of potassium bromate toxicity. 

Propyl Paraben

Propyl parabens exist in a surprising amount of foods and have been associated with negative effects in animal research. In a 2002 study, researchers administered propyl paraben in different doses to three-week-old rats. After four weeks, researchers found that daily sperm production significantly decreased, and testosterone concentrations dropped. Other research on mice noted that propyl paraben negatively affected female reproduction. 

Red Dye No. 3

The EWG notes that Red Dye No. 3 can cause tumors in rats and is a known carcinogen to animals. Red Dye No. 3 may potentially cause thyroid issues in rodents and lead to adverse neurobehavioral outcomes in children. Food dyes like Red Dye No. 3 have also been linked to estrogenic and DNA-damaging effects, ADHD, toxicity, and more in human and animal studies. 

Titanium Dioxide

Titanium dioxide is potentially carcinogenic to humans and may damage DNA, according to the EWG. It may also cause fibrosis of the heart at high doses, as confirmed in animal studies. It may potentially damage the liver and kidneys in high doses, as shown in animals. While more human research is needed to determine the risks of titanium dioxide, preliminary evidence indicates several side effects from excessive exposure. These side effects include:

  • Skin irritation
  • Cancer
  • Respiratory issues
  • Inflammation
  • Reproductive and developmental effects

Banning all of these chemicals is a great first step to help the U.S. catch up to Europe, where these substances are already banned from use in food, with a few minor exceptions. How is the U.S. behind the rest of the world in this regard? These are seriously dangerous additives that can negatively affect overall health.

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