Another US state is considering a ban on cancer-causing food additives as pressure mounts on food companies to clean up their recipes.
Pennsylvania State Representative Natalie Mihalek plans to propose a bill to outlaw four food additives in products sold in the state early next year.
Lawmakers are looking to ban brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben and red dye No. 3, which have been linked to cancer, chronic diseases and heart problems.
Rep. Mihalek told DailyMail.com the proposal could be expanded to include other food additives following meetings with stakeholders, although she did not specify which ones.
However, manufacturers that use these ingredients in popular foods are hitting back, saying they ‘undermine’ consumer confidence and ‘create confusion’ around food safety.
Pennsylvania State Representative Natalie Mihalek is considering tabling a ban on four food additives in Pennsylvania. She said it could be extended to include other additives
Pennsylvania’s ban would affect additives in most of the foods pictured above. Skittles was previously affected by the ban in California, but at the last moment legislators removed titanium dioxide used for coloring — which is included in the recipe for Skittles
While the European Union outlawed these additives decades ago after they were linked to variety of health issues, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates food products, has been accused of ‘dropping the ball’ on the issue.
Now, however, the agency has proposed a ban on brominated vegetable oil, but is yet to address the other three additives banned in California’s bill.
Researchers at Consumer Reports — a non-profit leading calls to make America’s food safer — say not enough has been done and urges the FDA to follow states’ leads when it comes to food safety.
Rep. Mihalek said she was inspired to table the ban by concerns for her three children
Republican Rep. Mihalek told DailyMail.com she had already circulated a memo — a written communication used to convey proposals for legislation — among colleagues in Pennsylvania.
A hearing is being planned for early next year, she said, after which she will consider proposing a bill that would call for at least four food additives to be banned in the state.
The bill faces a long process to become law, though.
It must first make it through a committee and then pass votes in both the state House and Senate and then be signed by Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro before it can become a law.
In California, it took nine months for the ‘Skittles ban’ bill to make it to the governor’s desk for his signature and to become law.
During this period, it had titanium dioxide — added to foods for color — removed from the list of food additives it would ban.
The substance, which is used in Skittles and is behind the ban’s name, was removed following lobbying from food companies that insisted the additive was essential for candied cherries.
Rep. Mihalek said she was inspired to call for the law change by her three children, aged 12, 10 and seven, because she was concerned about what they put into their bodies.
She told DailyMail.com: ‘This is a very organic piece of legislation.
‘I have three children and I am a working mom — so we try to be aware of what our children are putting in their bodies.
‘But there is a whole body of research out there on these bad additives that we are putting into our bodies.
‘There are also increasing diagnoses of hyperactivity, ADHD and problems with hormones.’
She said the opposition in Pennsylvania has already tried to fight the ban, arguing it should be considered at the federal level.
But the federal Government is often bogged down by delays and disagreements over funding and enforcement.
California Governor Gavin Newsom sent a letter confirming he had signed the bill earlier this year, making California the first US state to ban four food additives. He attached a bag of Skittles from the European Union to his letter, saying this was proof companies could alter their recipes
In the memo, Rep. Mihalek wrote: ‘As a mom of three young children, I make every effort to ensure my kids are getting the nutrition they need to learn and grow.
‘When we buy products geared toward children from trusted sources, we assume they are safe for our kids to consume.
‘The more food labels I read, [however], the more I realize that is not the case.’
Included in the proposed ban is the food dye Red No. 3. Studies have shown this substance to be associated with cancer in laboratory animals when they were exposed to very high doses. It has also been linked to behavioral issues in children.
The US banned it from cosmetic products in the 1990s, but it remains allowed to be used in many food products sold in the US.
Another pair of studies in 2016 found the dye was in more than one in 10 candies in the US and more than 80 percent of children under two years old had consumed it in the past two weeks.
Another of the substances is brominated vegetable oil, which is made from plants and used for citrus flavoring. It has been suggested by studies that long-term exposure harms the body’s nervous system.
It has also been linked to chronic headaches, memory loss and impaired balance. The additive is still used in a number of sodas, including Sun Drop and many budget sodas sold in grocery stores.
Propylparaben, often used as a preservative in baking goods, has been linked to fertility issues in mice by disrupting estrogen in females and reducing sperm counts in males.
Lastly, potassium bromate is also found in many baked goods and processed foods. The ingredient makes dough rise, but it has been linked to the development of thyroid and kidney cancers.