Skittles could be banned in California unless ‘toxic’ ingredient is changed

Skittles could be facing a potential ban in California, following the issue of a proposed bill, unless one “toxic” chemical and ingredient from the candies is removed.

Last month, California Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 418, which would ban the manufacture, distribution, or sale of processed foods with certain chemicals that are toxic. This state ban would apply to any food products that contain Red Dye No. 3, Titanium Dioxide, Potassium Bromate, Brominated Vegetable Oil, or Propyl Paraben.

The bill pointed out studies that have found these chemicals are linked to various health issues, such as an increased risk of cancer, harm to the reproductive system, and behavioural issues in children.

“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,” Mr Gabriel said in a statement last month. “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.”

These chemicals, which are banned in the European Union, have been found in a number of foods and drinks, including Skittles, Mountain Dew, Nerds, and Ding Dongs. More specifically, Mr Gabriel’s bill cited a 2016 study in science journal Nature, where titanium dioxide, which is an ingredient in Skittles, was found to have damaged the immune system of rats.

However, in a statement to USA Today, Mr Gabriel said that this bill doesn’t mean that the beloved candy will be banned.

“I love Skittles. I eat them all the time,” he said. “There’s a 0 per cent chance this is actually going to result in a ban of Skittles. All we want the companies to do is switch their recipes in the same way that they’ve done in Europe, and Canada and the U.K. and Brazil and other countries that have banned these chemicals.”

On Twitter, people have still criticised the state for proposing a ban on the chemical in Skittles, amid other major issues, including California’s homelessness crisis.

“Just heard that they are trying to ban Skittles in CA. Thank goodness. We shouldn’t worry about homelessness, bad roads, poor water storage, rising crime, highest gas prices in the nation, or any other important things. We are being governed by clowns,” one wrote.

“When our healthcare system and gun control sucks but states are trying to ban Tiktok, porn, books, and Skittles,” another sarcastically wrote.

A third joked: “Yeah let’s ban skittles cause that’s easy to do. Solve other problems like vets issues, homeless, folks without heat.”

If the AB 418 bill is passed, California would become the first state in the country to ban these chemicals in processed foods.

Susan Little, the Environmental Working Group’s Governmental Affairs Senior Advocate for California, also emphasised the dangers of these chemicals to Mr Gabriel’s team.

“Why are these toxic chemicals in our food?” she said in a statement. “We know they are harmful and that children are likely eating more of these chemicals than adults. It makes no sense that the same products food manufacturers sell in California are sold in the EU but without these toxic chemicals. We thank Assemblymember Gabriel’s efforts to remove these toxic additives from California’s food supply.”

This bill also comes almost a year after candy giant Mars Inc was sued by a consumer, who claimed that the company’s Skittles were “unfit for human consumption”. The lawsuit, filed by Jenile Thames in Oakland, California in July 2022, alleged that Skittles contain “heightened levels” of titanium dioxide. However, Mr Thames voluntarily dismissed the case in November, as reported by Reuters. A reason for this dismissal was not given.

The Independent has contacted Mars Inc for comment.