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Consumer Reports Applauds PEEPS candy maker for decision to stop using Red Dye 3 in advance of California’s ban of the dye

CR had urged Just Born to remove ingredient that has been linked to cancer. 

YONKERS, NY – Consumer Reports is applauding Just Born, the manufacturer of popular PEEPS candies, for indicating that it will no longer use Red Dye 3 in any of its products after Easter 2024. CR had urged the company to stop using Red Dye 3 in Peeps earlier this year and a new California law bans the use of Red Dye 3 and three other additives from food produced and sold in the state starting in 2027. CR had collected nearly 30,000 petition signatures from consumers urging Just Born to stop using Red Dye 3 in PEEPS.

“We’ve known for years that Red Dye 3 and the other toxic chemicals banned under California’s landmark pose serious risks to our health,” said Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports. “The widespread use of Red Dye #3 is particularly concerning since it is found in many products marketed to children who are especially at risk of developing health problems from exposure. We applaud Just Born for removing Red Dye #3 from PEEPS before the California law goes into effect in 2027 and urge other companies to do the same.”

In a statement provided to Consumer Reports, Just Born indicated that, “For Easter 2024, of all our PEEPS® offerings, two colors will contain Red #3 – Pink and Lavender. All Just Born products, including Pink and Lavender PEEPS®, comply with FDA guidelines and use only FD&C certified color. HOT TAMALES® no longer contains Red #3. You will begin to see the updated ingredient list on store shelves in the coming months.”

In addition to Red Dye #3, the California law, which was introduced by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, bans the use of brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, and propyl paraben. All four chemicals are already banned in Europe and have been linked to serious health problems, such as hyperactivity, nervous system damage and increased risk of cancer. Given the size of the California market, the new law will likely prompt manufacturers to stop using the four food chemicals in all food sold across the country. Consumer Reports co-sponsored the measure in California along with EWG.

Last October, Consumer Reports joined the Center for Science in the Public Interest and other groups to urge the FDA to ban the cancer-causing ingredient in all food. As part of that effort, CR delivered a petition to the FDA signed by nearly 35,000 consumers calling on the agency to prohibit the use of Red Dye 3 in food. The FDA has not yet acted on the petition.

Michael McCauley, michael.mccauley@consumer.org