An assembly bill introduced by the Californian government to ban the use of titanium dioxide and other additives in all food products has been met with growing dissent from the food industry, as it argues the ingredient is safe for use and consumption.
California AB 418, which was introduced by Jesse Gabriel, California State Assembly Member, would ban the sale of foods and confectionery products that contain certain chemicals including titanium dioxide, potassium bromate, brominated vegetable oil, red dye no.3 and propyl paraben.
The reasons cited for the ban of these chemicals is that they are harmful to consumers, and have been linked to cases of cancer. If passed, the bill would come into force on 1 January 2025 and would stop someone from distributing, holding or selling a food product that contains these chemicals.
They would also be unable to manufacture with these ingredients, which proves potentially problematic for the confectionery industry as titanium dioxide has been used to create a smooth texture for candies or to provide a white colour. Colouring companies, however, are increasingly offering natural alternatives made from fruits or vegetables – although these are heat sensitive and can present challenges in manufacturing.
Several associations have released their response to the bill, including the Titanium Dioxide Stewardship Council (TDSC) which wrote, “The TDSC supports the strong existing regulatory processes that help support a wholesome, safe food supply. We therefore oppose California AB 418 as an overly broad and unnecessary burden on consumers, manufacturers, and regulators.”
In an article from Food Navigator last year, the FDA said in response to the European Commission banning the use of titanium dioxide in foods in the EU that it does “not demonstrate safety concerns connected to the use of titanium as a colour additive.”
In eerie echoes to fearful reactions after The Consumer Reports published a study citing that there were concerning levels of lead and cadmium in chocolate products, the National Confectioners Association released the following statement: “Chocolate and candy are safe to enjoy, as they have been for centuries. We strongly oppose AB 418 because there is no evidence to support banning the ingredients listed in the bill. The ingredients that would be banned under this proposal have all been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Food safety is the number one priority for US confectionery companies, and we do not use any ingredients in our products that do not comply with the FDA’s strictest safety standards.”
The association also wrote a letter of opposition to California, citing that the banning of such an ingredient would prove difficult to the confectionery industry, which “plays an important role in the economy.”
“We strongly oppose this bill because we believe it is misguided,” the NCA wrote, explaining that under current guidance, the FDA has determined these additives are safe to use.
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