California is different than the rest of the country. It just is. The state's diverse geography, mild climate, and plentiful natural resources have attracted people to the Golden State for centuries. But its legal system is a developing challenge for businesses, especially in the food and beverage space. And there is no better case to prove this point than AB 418, the recently passed California law that bans the inclusion of four additives – propyl paraben, brominated vegetable oil, Red Dye No. 3, and potassium bromate – in food and beverage products.
No other state has this law. Neither does the federal government. And industry experts are already expressing reservations about AB 418 creating more disunity in an already fractured state and federal regulatory landscape. Indeed, former FDA deputy commissioner Frank Yiannis has stated that California's decision to bypass federal processes “does not serve the nation.” His rationale is that a patchwork of state food and beverage standards inhibit the ability of the industry as a whole to produce an abundant and available supply of food; due to becoming overly focused on figuring out how to comply with an uneven regulatory landscape. While in theory food and beverage companies could choose not to do business in California to avoid the regulation, pragmatically it is difficult to forego doing business in a state whose population is larger than Australia and Canada.
The good news for industry is that AB 418 has a compliance date of January 1, 2027. And some experts believe the law will be a “wake up call” for other states and the FDA to pass similar legislation. But for now, food and beverage companies will face unique challenges doing business in California, despite the great weather.