In a number of my posts, I have bemoaned the regulatory compliance difficulties encountered by food and beverage companies doing business in California. But California is not alone. Proposed legislation in The Land of Lincoln and The Empire State would ban 5 food additives from food products sold in retail establishments – brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben, red dye No. 3, and titanium dioxide.
The justification for the legislation in both states is public health. All of these additives have ostensibly been linked to serious health problems including an increased risk of cancer, if consumed in sufficient amounts. Legislators claim they are not trying to ban any specific products or take food off of shelves. Instead, they believe these laws are needed to “ensure food manufacturers update recipes to use alternative, safer ingredients that are already used in other places around the world.” Notably, the Food and Drug Administration has indicated that it intends to revoke the approval of brominated vegetable oil in food and beverage products and is currently reviewing the safety of red dye No. 3. FDA considers titanium dioxide at 1% or less by weight of the food product is safe.
This type of state-level legislation underscores the challenges faced by food and beverage companies who do business across multiple state lines. The lack of a comprehensive, consistent food safety policy, guided by science at the federal level, means retailers must comply with different rules in different states in order to do business there, based upon public safety concerns that are not uniform. I will be following these regulatory developments throughout 2024. Food and beverage companies need to do the same.