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Consumer Reports endorses Pennsylvania bill to ban harmful food dyes and additives

Dyes and additives prohibited under bill have been linked to serious health problems 

HARRISBURG, PA – Consumer Reports endorsed a pair of bills today that will help protect Pennsylvanians from a number of harmful food dyes and additives. Pennsylvania is the latest state where lawmakers have proposed banning unsafe ingredients in food given inaction at the federal level by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“Dangerous dyes and additives shown to cause cancer and other serious health and behavioral problems shouldn’t be allowed in our food,” said Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports. “Unfortunately, the FDA hasn’t taken action to protect the public, despite the well-documented risks these harmful food chemicals pose to our health. By banning these toxic dyes and additives, these bills will protect Pennsylvanians and make our food safer.”

Under proposed legislation introduced by Representatives Natalie Mihalek and Melissa Shusterman, the state would ban the following synthetic dyes in food: Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, and Blue 2. Red 3 was banned by the FDA in cosmetics and skincare products decades ago, but is still allowed in food. Recent research has linked these food dyes to behavioral problems in children, including inattentiveness, learning difficulties and restlessness.

Separate legislation introduced by Representatives Mihalek and Shusterman would ban potassium bromate, brominated vegetable oil (BVO), and beta hydroxycarboxylic acid (BHA), which have all been linked to an increased risk of cancer and other negative health effects.

Last year, California became the first state to ban four harmful additives to food made and sold in that state.  This year, the state legislature will consider a new bill banning different synthetic food dyes in food allowed in public schools. New York lawmakers have introduced bills that ban seven unsafe food additives and require public disclosure of new additives secretly introduced by food manufacturers when they exploit a loophole in federal law that enables them to bypass FDA approval. Lawmakers in Illinois are also considering a ban on certain harmful food additives.

Michael McCauley, michael.mccauley@consumer.org