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Skittles banned: Decoding California’s New Food Additive Rules

Understanding the Impact and Skittles Banned

Skittles Banned: On October 7th, Governor Gavin Newsom made a significant move by signing AB 418, which is known as the California Food Safety Act. This historic law imposes a ban on the “offer for sale, sale, distribution, possession for sale, or sale for use” of certain food products, encompassing approximately 12,000 candies, grains, and sodas presently found in corner stores. The controversy surrounding the bill, set to take effect in the spring of 2023, primarily revolves around its intention to remove Skittles from the shelves of corner stores.

However, following an amendment, titanium dioxide is no longer included in the final version of the bill—a chemical that would have incorporated the iconic rainbow color in the candy’s formulation. Nevertheless, a multitude of products will still be affected by the ban, including Peeps, most of the velvety red velvet cupcakes found in convenience stores, and much more.

Key Points

Governor Gavin Newsom of California signed a bill on Saturday, placing a ban on four chemicals—Red Dye No. 3, Potassium Bromate, Brominated Vegetable Oil, and Propylparaben—commonly used in snacks like Peeps, Brach’s candy corn, and Little Debbie snacks. Cosmic brownies.

Sometimes referred to colloquially as the “Skittles Ban,” this term stems from the previous version of the bill, which imposed a ban on titanium dioxide—a chemical found in Skittles candy.

While titanium dioxide is no longer mentioned in the law, the nickname “Skittles Ban” has stuck, and some viral social media posts falsely claim that California will ban Skittles candy by 2027.

Despite the Skittles Ban, and even though titanium dioxide is no longer named in the law, companies have until 2027 to reformulate products containing banned chemicals.

European Perspective

The European Union had banned the use of titanium dioxide last year, but Skittles can still be found on shelves in Europe because the alleged banned chemicals are not included in the candies sold in these countries.

Newsom raised objections to the use of the term “Skittles Ban” in a letter, indicating how other countries, which have banned titanium dioxide, still sell Skittles. He wrote, “There are several misconceptions about this bill and its effects.

For example, attached to this message is a bag of the popular candy ‘Skittles,’ which has become the face of this proposal. This particular bag of candy comes from the European Union—a place that already imposes bans on several chemicals and colors. This is direct evidence that the food industry is capable of creating a product line that complies with various public health laws on a country-by-country basis.”

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Center for Science in the Public Interest

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the dyed Skittles, gummy bears, and other products made for children—all along with non-red food items like spiced potatoes and rice—contain Red Dye No. 3.

Now, under the new California Food Safety Act, a ban is imposed on the production, sale, or distribution of food products containing dye and three other popular additives: Potassium Bromate, Brominated Vegetable Oil, and Propylparaben.

Unraveling the Controversy

In 1990, consumer reports revealed a startling revelation – the United States had imposed a ban on the use of Red Dye No. 3 in beauty enhancements, associating it with thyroid cancer. This move, propelled by an environmental action group, marked a significant step in regulating additives.

Is Applying FD&C Safe on Our Cheeks, but Not in Our Mouths?

Lisa Lefferts, a scientist and advisor at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, explained to The Washington Post, “The FDA says it’s not safe to put on our cheeks, but is it okay to put in our mouths?”

California, by implementing a ban on these additives, became the pioneering state in this regard. The European Union had already declared four controversial additives as non-legal: Red Dye 3, Propylparaben, Brominated Vegetable Oil, and Potassium Bromate. Consumer Reports endorsed the bill, and Brian Ronholm, Director of Food Policy at the non-profit advocacy group, hailed it as a “groundbreaking” law with “strong bipartisan support.”

Deciphering the Implications for Common Pantry Staples

The implications of banning common pantry staples like cookies and juice in the United States’ pantry staple come down to the dependency of companies. The law grants manufacturers the authority to alter ingredients in foods by 2027, keeping banned additives in mind, identified by 24 groups and scientists as potentially carcinogenic or neurotoxic, and associated with reproductive harm. They can be found in various products – for instance, Propylparaben may be present in several popular brands of trail mix, and Potassium Bromate may be found in certain brands of tortillas.

The FDA’s Stance and Environmental Advocacy Group’s Concerns

As mentioned, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given its approval for these substances for years – although the environmental action group claims that in some cases, a review hasn’t even taken place over decades.

James Kafflin, a food specialist at UC Davis, deems the ban on chemicals as “unnecessary and unscientific.” The National Confectioners Association asserts that this new law will confuse consumers and erode trust in the industry. However, Assemblyman JC Gabriel informed the Los Angeles Times that these substances are “non-essential” and the government is simply encouraging companies to make alterations in their recipes.

The Way Forward

In conclusion, the debate surrounding the ban on certain food additives, particularly Red Dye No. 3, has ignited discussions about consumer safety, industry practices, and regulatory measures. The decision made by California, and the endorsement by various scientific bodies, highlights the need for vigilant consideration of ingredients in our everyday products.


The signing of AB 418 into law signifies a significant step towards enhancing food safety standards in California. While the controversy surrounding the “Skittles Ban” persists, it is crucial to acknowledge the broader implications for the food industry as a whole. This legislation not only sets a precedent for other states but also emphasizes the importance of adhering to public health regulations on a global scale.


  1. What is AB 418 and the California Food Safety Act?
    • AB 418, also known as the California Food Safety Act, is a significant legislation signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on October 7th. It imposes a ban on the sale, distribution, and possession of certain food products, affecting approximately 12,000 candies, grains, and sodas.
  2. Why is there controversy surrounding the “Skittles Ban”?
    • The controversy primarily revolves around the intention to remove Skittles from the shelves of corner stores. This stems from the initial version of the bill which included a ban on titanium dioxide, a chemical found in Skittles.
  3. What is the significance of the amendment excluding titanium dioxide?
    • Following an amendment, titanium dioxide, a chemical responsible for the iconic rainbow color in Skittles, is no longer included in the final version of the bill. However, a wide range of products, including Peeps and red velvet cupcakes, will still be affected by the ban.
  4. How does the European Union’s perspective differ from California’s regulations?
    • The EU banned the use of titanium dioxide, but Skittles can still be found on shelves because the alleged banned chemicals are not included in the candies sold in these countries. This highlights a regional variation in food safety standards.
  5. What are the implications for common pantry staples due to the ban on additives?
    • The ban affects common pantry staples like cookies and juice, prompting companies to consider ingredient alterations by 2027. Certain additives, identified as potentially harmful, are found in various products, emphasizing the need for vigilance in ingredient selection.


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